I thought that it was too good to be true. How could I think that our President who requests US agencies to implement regulations rejected by Congress and who has embraced the progressive agenda of the United Nations would actually spare agriculture just a little from insane and damaging labor regulations? If you own a farm or a ranch you know how important it is for children to help their parents. Children helping parents learn how to work on the farm and it is a right of passage, passed from generation to generation since the very first farm, to allow them to work for others.
Children learn a trade, and learn to be productive through hard work; it prepares them for their future life whatever they decide to become. Farmers’ children learn, beside a trade, ethics, responsibility, and honoring their elderly. A 10 year old could teach Washington bureaucrats a thing or two about tractors, equipment, hard work and ethics.
What is the difference for a 14 year old who first helps his parents by working on the family farm and then works for a neighbor to bring extra money home? I have employed in the past teenagers during summer recess to spray weeds. It was good for me because it would save me time to do other things, and it was good for the teenager because he could earn money. Often I employ neighbor’s teenagers to help me working livestock. Bad things can always happen, but we have never had accidents nor we have ever been close to have accidents. And especially now in a time when it is so hard for youth to find a job and parents are struggling is more important than ever that we keep helping each other out by hiring our young. I encourage all of you to act by commenting on this insane nonsense and to defend our liberties and our farms. For those of you who do not own a farm or a ranch, please be aware that regulations like these negatively affect those who are already struggling to put food on your table. Agriculture Is Your Culture, like the Texas Dept. of Agriculture states on its website.
Today, the Department of Labor’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to update child labor regulations for young workers employed in agriculture and related fields was made public. The NPRM can be found on the Federal Register’s Public Inspection Desk website today at: http://www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx and at the Federal Register website on Friday, September 2nd at: http://www.federalregister.gov.
The agricultural hazardous occupations orders under the Fair Labor Standards Act that bar young workers from certain tasks have not been updated since they were promulgated in 1970. The department is proposing updates based on the enforcement experiences of its Wage and Hour Division, recommendations made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and a commitment to bring parity between the rules for young workers employed in agricultural jobs and the more stringent rules that apply to those employed in nonagricultural workplaces. The proposed regulations would not apply to children working on farms owned by their parents.
The NPRM proposes:
- Strengthening current child labor regulations prohibiting agricultural work with animals and in pesticide handling, timber operations, manure pits and storage bins.
- Prohibiting farmworkers under age 16 from participating in the cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco.
- Prohibiting youth in both agricultural and nonagricultural employment from using electronic, including communication, devices while operating power-driven equipment.
- Creating a new nonagricultural hazardous occupations order that would prevent children under 18 from being employed in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials. Prohibited places of employment would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions.
- Prohibiting farmworkers under 16 from operating almost all power-driven equipment. A similar prohibition has existed as part of the nonagricultural child labor provisions for more than 50 years. A limited exemption would permit some student learners to operate certain farm implements and tractors, when equipped with proper rollover protection structures and seat belts, under specified conditions.
The Wage and Hour Division employs a combination of enforcement, compliance assistance and collaboration strategies in partnership with states and community-based organizations to protect children working in the United States. When violations of law are found, the division uses all enforcement tools necessary to ensure accountability and deter future violations. WHD is responsible for enforcing the FLSA, which establishes federal child labor provisions for both agricultural and nonagricultural employment, and charges the Secretary of Labor with prohibiting employment of youth in occupations that she finds and declares to be particularly hazardous for them. The FLSA establishes a minimum age of 18 for hazardous work in nonagricultural employment and 16 in agricultural employment. Once agricultural workers reach age 16, they are no longer subject to the FLSA’s child labor provisions. The FLSA also provides a complete exemption for youths employed on farms owned by their parents.
The public is invited to provide comments on this important proposal, which must be received by November 1, 2011. A public hearing on the proposal will be held following the comment period.