Labor Regulations Challenged by Farmers

Earlier this year, the Department of Labor proposed several major changes to agricultural child labor laws. Among these changes, the new regulations would ban farm workers under 16 from working in cultivation, harvesting certain crops, using electronic and communication equipment while operating certain farm equipment, and working in the storing and transporting of farm goods. In addition, it would prohibit most farm workers under 16 from working in animal husbandry.

These new labor regulations could significantly change farm operations across the country, particularly small farms. While family operations employing the labor of family members are exempted, former rules exempting young workers who had participated in farm safety classes are expected to disappear.

Some young workers are worried that these new regulations could threaten their livelihoods, as well as those of their families. In addition, many agricultural students are worried that the new regulations could limit their exposure to agricultural practices and add an unnecessarily high hurdle to their agricultural education.

The deadline for comments on the Labor Department’s new regulations is November 1. However many farm organization are planning to ask for a 60 day extension in order to give themselves the most time possible to challenge these potentially burdensome new labor laws.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer