The Labor Department announced today that it is backtracking on a proposed rule that would have kept youths from working on family farms.
“The decision to withdraw this rule – including provisions to define the ‘parental exemption’ – was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms,” Labor said in a statement. “To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.”
While not targeting kids under 16 who work in “agricultural vocations,” the Labor Department said it would be setting up an “educational program” regarding kids on farms.
“Instead, the Departments of Labor and Agriculture will work with rural stakeholders – such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the Future Farmers of America, and 4-H – to develop an educational program to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices,” the statement said.
Congressmen representing rural areas rejoiced at the turnabout.
“The fact that this rule was ever proposed in the first place was absurd, and it shows the administration’s fundamental misunderstanding of what it takes to run a family farm,” said Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). “I am, however, glad to see the administration exercise common sense and actually listen to the thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect it would have on family-owned farms.”
“Agriculture is vital to our region’s economy and food security, and I look forward to continuing to work with New Yorkers to ensure Washington works for the farming community — not against it,” said Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.).
The proposed regulations would have kept children on farms from participating in a variety of activities including operating a tractor, applying pesticides and working with livestock.
“This policy was not only unnecessary, it threatened the very way of life that I and so many others hold dear,” said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). “When will President Obama realize that his out of touch policies do not reflect the values of the American people? His actions continue to show that he is disconnected with the people in the heartland of this great country.”