Missouri Farmers Protest Labor Laws

Missouri farmers and politicians recently came out against the Labor Department’s proposed changes to agricultural child labor laws.

The Labor Department regulations are part of an effort to reform long untouched child labor laws. For the past 40 years, agricultural child labor laws have remained the same, a problem, some labor officials say, given the major changes to agricultural production since the 1970s.

In an effort to better protect children, the Labor Department sought to ban children under 16 from working on the most dangerous farm jobs, including using powered machinery and working with animals.

The proposals met with stiff resistance from farmers and politicians. The Missouri Farm Bureau and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon have recently joined this opposition.

In a statement made earlier this week, Nixon cast agricultural work as a vital part of life in rural America and portrayed farm work as a critical rite of passage for young Americans. “Baling hay and doing chores are rites of passage for young people in the heartland. Helping on the farm is how young people learn responsibility, dependability and the value of hard work. It’s how we make sure the next generation is ready to take the reins of family farms.”

Nixon is just the latest in a long line of Missouri politicians who have come out against the new child labor regulations. Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt have recently proposed legislation that would block the implementation of the new policies.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer