The Joplin Globe
Farm families have one less thing to worry about.
The U.S. Department of Labor has decided to withdraw proposed farm youth labor rules after an outcry from families who depend on their sons, daughters, cousins and grandchildren to pitch in to keep the farm running.
We consider the withdrawal of the rules a big win for many of our readers living in rural areas of Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. The rules were supported by child labor advocacy groups.
We don’t disagree that there should be oversight, but the new proposals would have had a devastating effect on a way of life that is already threatened by big corporate farms.
The measure would have prohibited children younger than 16 years old from doing many standard farm chores and limited their ability to work with livestock. In our view, many of the 4-H and FFA programs we hold in high esteem would have been gutted if the requirements were put in place.
Most upsetting was a proposed rule that said teens couldn’t work for anyone but their parents. That would have kept youngsters from helping out relatives and neighbors. Quite often, for business purposes, family farms are organized as limited liability corporations. Under the proposal, if a farm was organized as an LLC, teens couldn’t work there, even if their parents owned it.
We believe that teens who work around livestock or operate equipment must have good training. There are a number of those programs available through university extension programs, and of course, parents.
Inevitably these proposals will be back on the table. But this time, at least, the loud voices of enough farmers made a difference.