Groups Submit Comments to Department of Labor

Concerns about proposed child labor regulations are expressed by farm groups.

Published on: Dec 2, 2011

The National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union and National Sorghum Producers have all weighed in on the Department of Labor's proposed child labor regulations.

NCGA President Garry Niemeyer says growers understand the dangers associated with working on a farm and are committed to ensuring youth are safe. While NCGA supports existing provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act that permit the Labor Department to establish appropriate standards for youth employment on the farm, he says they do not support hindering family farmers.

According to NSP Chairman Terry Swanson the unrealistic restrictions that the department seeks to impose would have detrimental side effects on both farmers and rural youth. His group asked the department to carefully consider these concerns and ultimately refrain from imposing the unnecessary restrictions.

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says some provisions included in the rule need modification and urged caution in implementing regulations that may discourage children from learning about agriculture. NFU is suggesting, among other things, that the department clarify certain aspects of the parental exemption for children employed in agriculture.

NCGA actually joined with 47 other ag organizations in sending its comments to the Department of Labor. The comments highlighted the importance of education of farm safety and extracurricular activities such as FFA and 4-H that place a strong emphasis on farm safety and education.

The Department of Labor's proposed rules would raise the minimum age of employment on farms to 16 and for facilities that handle raw commodities to 18. The rules also place limits on pesticide handling, heavy machinery operation and working with animals. Thursday was the final day to submit comments on the proposal.