In the wake of months of intense opposition from farm advocacy groups and agricultural politicians, the Department of Labor and the White House are abandoning proposed changes to agricultural child labor laws.
The labor kerfuffle started last year, when Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and officials at the Labor Department proposed updating child labor regulations, regulations that have not been changed since the 1970s. Specifically, they sought to limit children’s ability to perform potentially dangerous farm work, such as operating powered machinery, working with some animal breeds, and working in dangerous locations like grain silos.
The proposed regulations would not have applied to children working on their parents’ farm. After intense opposition, the Labor Department revised these regulations to expand the exemption to children working on a farm owned or operated by a parent or guardian.
In the wake of continued opposition from farmers and some politicians, the White House abandoned the proposal late Thursday, citing concerns regarding how they would affect family farms. “The Obama administration is firmly committed to promoting family farmers and respecting the rural way of life, especially the role that parents and other family members play in passing those traditions down through the generations,” the Labor department said in a statement issued yesterday.
While agricultural groups and politicians are praising the reversal, some workplace safety advocates are disappointed that the administration backed down. However, given the overall decline in workplace farm injuries, many farmers remains skeptical that new regulations are needed.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer