Indiana Senator Dick Lugar recently released a scathing critique of the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed changes to child labor regulations on non-family owned farms.
The proposed rule would update several regulations regarding the employment of children on farms and ranches, rules that have remained the same for the past 35 years. In particular, they would prohibit children under the age of 16 from operating most powered farm machinery, would prevent them from working with several types of animals, and would prohibit them from working in silos.
Many farmers have expressed concern that these regulations could hurt their business. Lugar echoed these concerns, stating, “The changes to the youth agricultural labor regulations proposed by the Department of Labor could have far-reaching impacts on the ability of Indiana farmers and agribusinesses to hire youth to work in agriculture. If allowed to go forward, this proposed rule could further weaken an already undersized agricultural workforce, could eliminate valuable agricultural and vocational training programs, and could adversely change the structure of the family farm.”
In addition, he stated that, “It is puzzling why the Department would suddenly propose changes to existing regulations, particularly considering the advancements in farm equipment and adoption of technologies that have improved operator safety in the last 35 years.”
Labor officials, however, have stated that the 35-year gap warrants a fresh look at old regulations, particularly considering the technological changes that have occurred in the last quarter century.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer