Farmers across the country are mobilizing public support to oppose new regulations governing child labor on farms and ranches. The regulations, proposed several months ago by the Department of Labor, would prohibit children under sixteen from operating tractors, operating powered machinery, working with animals in certain situations, and working in silos.
The Labor Department has stated that the regulations are not meant to prohibit entirely children from working on farms, but are meant to protect children employed in one of the United States’ most dangerous industries.
Child labor regulations have not been updated in nearly forty years, according to labor officials, and are in dire need of change to reflect better the realities of modern agricultural production.
Children working on family farms would be exempted from many of the new regulations.
However, farmers across the country are rallying to oppose these new regulations, claiming that they are too strict and could cause serious harm to the agricultural industry and to local job creation. Some farmers, for example, claim that the new regulations will make it virtually impossible to hire local teenagers, which, in turn, will help accelerate the graying of the farm profession. Without giving children the opportunity to take part in agricultural work, some farmers say they will be unlikely to consider farming as a potential career path.
In addition, some farmers claim that they handle safety issues and encourage the creation of an appropriate safety culture.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer