“The decision today by the Labor Department to re-propose the ‘parental exemption’ in the child labor rule is a positive step, but much more work is needed. We will continue to work with the administration to address our concerns with the rule. Any final regulation must make sense, not infringe on the traditional rights of family farms and not unnecessarily restrict the ability of young people to work in agriculture. As the Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed rule stands currently, that is not the case,” says Bob Stallman, president, American Farm Bureau Federation.
“Farm work has always played a significant role in the lives of rural youth across the country, whether they are milking cows on their grandparents’ farm or harvesting apples as a summer job. DOL’s rule would have a detrimental effect on family farms and would create an even tighter supply of farm labor when it’s already in short supply,” he adds.
“Farm and ranch families are more interested than anyone else in assuring the safety of farming operations. We have no desire at all to have young teenagers working in jobs that are inappropriate or entail too much risk. But laws and regulations need to be sensible and within reason — not prohibiting teenagers from performing simple everyday farm functions like operating a battery-powered screwdriver,” Stallman says.
“We appreciate Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s diligent work on the issue and look forward to working with USDA and DOL further on establishing a rule that respects the importance of youth farm work in rural America and the importance it plays in our system of family-based agriculture,” he concludes.