South Dakota Senator John Thune recently criticized proposed child labor laws, claiming that they could destroy the agricultural sector as we know it.
The proposed labor regulations have been a hot button issue for the past several months. Initially, the Labor Department, attempting to update decades old farm labor laws, sought to prevent children under the age of 16 from doing multiple agricultural tasks, including working with powered farm machinery, working in silos, and working with animals. While the regulations would not apply to children working on a farm owned by their parents, the exemptions were narrow and could have prevented a significant amount of family-based farm labor.
According to Thune, “These restrictions would increase the cost of doing business and extremely alter the way of life we know in South Dakota.”
In response to heavy criticism, the Labor Department revised the regulations, broadening the family farm exemption to encompass children working on a farms owned by their parents or legal guardians. The Labor Department expects to open the regulations to public comment this summer.
Despite these changes, Thune and many of his colleagues are not satisfied. Calling the regulations “another case of government overreach,” Thune and Kansas Senator Jerry Moran introduced legislation to prevent the Labor Department from implementing the proposed regulations.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer