Earlier this week the House of Representatives voted to block the Department of Labor from implementing new regulations of child labor on farms. Earlier this year, the Labor Department considered, and rejected, tougher regulations underage farm workers.
Last December, the Labor Department announced that it was considering tough new regulations on child labor on non-family farms. Children under 16 would have been prevented from operating powered farm machinery (like tractors), and children under 18 would have been prevented from working in dangerous environments (like silos). Children working on farms owned or operated by their parents would have been exempted from these regulations.
After considerable protest from farmers across the country, the Labor Department relented, shelving the proposal entirely.
The House vote would guarantee that these regulations remain shelved. According to Iowa Representative Tom Latham, “The regulations imposed by the Department of Labor went beyond all common sense and would have destroyed opportunities for youth across the agricultural economy.”
The House bill passed in a voice vote, with only a single representative speaking out against it.
While farmers point to decreasing injury rates for farm workers under 25 as proof that the industry does not need increased oversight, some safety advocates point to statistics suggesting that farm labor remains dangerous, especially for children.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer