Official word is out that the Department of Labor has withdrawn its' proposed standards for changes in child labor laws. The laws as proposed last fall would have severally hampered the ability of youth under 18 to work on farms and in many ag businesses, and might have even made it difficult for kids to work on their own parent's farm.
The fact that it is withdraw is not news. Bill Field, Purdue University safety specialist, reported a couple of weeks ago that it was to be withdrawn. However, Field was confident that another rule would be proposed in its place as early as this summer. He believed that the rule makers were starting to understand that they would need to reword the exemption for kids working on their own farms since many family farms are incorporated. However, he was less optimistic that they understood how such a rule could cripple FFA programs and vocational agriculture instruction, and at the same time deny young people a chance for meaningful employment that has helped shaped the work ethic and led to many careers in various fields related to agriculture in the past.
Now comes news that the Obama Administration has no intention of reintroducing any such rule as long as it is in power. DOL issues this statement on April 26: "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 Obama Administration is also deeply committed to listening and responding to what Americans across the country have to say about the proposed rule. As a result, the Department of Labor is announcing today the withdraw of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 working in agricultural vocations. The decision to withdraw the rule- including provisions to define the parental exemption- was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the rule on small, family-owned farms. To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama Administration. Instead, the DOL with work with rural stakeholders to develop an educational program to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices."