Late this afternoon the Labor Department issued this statement concerning youth working on 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 Obama Administration is also deeply committed to listening and responding to what Americans across the country have to say about proposed rules and regulations. As a result, the Department of Labor is announcing today the withdrawal of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 who work in agricultural vocations. The decision to withdraw this rule – including provisions to define the ‘parental exemption’ – was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms. To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama Administration. Instead, the Departments of Labor and Agriculture will work with rural stakeholders – such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the Future Farmers of America, and 4-H – to develop an educational program to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices.”
For those that didn’t hear about this controversial bit of legislation. It would have prohibited anyone under the age of 16 from working in agriculture. This included the family farm. Young people across the country would have also not been able to engage in anything related to agriculture that could be deemed as “labor”. This could have included many projects for 4H and FFA, such as livestock and horticulture. Millions of dollars in money and scholarships related to these projects are awarded across the United States. Not being able to participate in this type of activity until the age of 16 would have devastated that aspect of the industry and hindered many from attaining a higher education.
It just isn’t always possible for a farmer or rancher to pay the cost of their child’s tuition. Family farms are not multimillion dollar operations like the corporations own. They need the entire family to keep things afloat from year to year and season to season. They want their children to be educated and come home to help run the business. It is a business for the family, but it is also a way of life.
Recent rising costs of fuel and supplies have stretched the farm budgets to a breaking point and many are having to sell out just to get out of debt. With the smaller family run farms becoming fewer and fewer, this removal of a large portion of the workforce could have been the nail in the proverbial coffin.
- Obama Ban on Youth Farm Chores Part of Larger Power Grab (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Rural kids, parents angry about Labor Dept. rule banning farm chores (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Ron Paul Statement on Labor Department Regulations Affecting Family Farms (fromthetrenchesworldreport.com)