2012 WTF 24 – The Dept of Labor Banning Farm Chores – I grew up in Ohio farm country, and had a great childhood there, but now new rules by the Dept of Labor would change how those farm kids I grew up with would grow up today.
The Department of Labor has stated that it is putting the finishing touches on rules that would apply more child-labor laws to children working on family farms, prohibiting them from performing a list of jobs on their own families’ land. Under the rules, children under 18 could no longer work “in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials.” “Prohibited places of employment,” a Department press release read, “would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions.”
The new regulations, first proposed August 31 by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, would also revoke the government’s approval of safety training and certification taught by independent groups like 4-H and FFA, replacing them instead with a 90-hour federal government training course; and would prevent kids from doing 4-H and FFA projects if they are not conducted at their parents’ house.
According to the article below, when pressed by the American Farm Bureau regarding why they felt the need to release these new rules now, the DoL indicated it was because the number of injuries are higher for farm kids than in non-ag industries, HOWEVER a US Dept of Agriculture study released recently says that farm accidents among youth fell nearly 40 percent between 2001 and 2009, to 7.2 injuries per 1,000 farms. I guess they missed that report.
Cherokee County Farm Bureau president Jeff Clark declared the rules were “so far-reaching, kids would be prohibited from working on anything ‘power take-off’ driven, and anything with a work-height over six feet...” including most farm equipment. He went on to point out that the “anything ‘power take-off’ driven” clause would also prohibit children under 16 from using battery powered screwdrivers, and other power tools, since their motors, like those of a tractor, are defined as “power take-off driven.”
Additionally, the new rules say that jobs that could “inflict pain on an animal” would also be off-limits for kids, but they don’t bother to define what “inflicting pain” means. So if putting a halter on an animal causes it discomfort, does that mean kids can no longer do that? Montana Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg complained that the animal provision would also mean young people couldn’t “see veterinary medicine in practice … including a veterinarian’s own children accompanying him or her to a farm or ranch.”
Kansas Republican Senator Jerry Moran blasted Hilda Solis for getting between rural parents and their children. “The consequences of the things that you put in your regulations lack common sense, and in my view, if the federal government can regulate the kind of relationship between parents and their children on their own family’s farm, there is almost nothing off-limits in which we see the federal government intruding in a way of life.”
To me, this just seems like more of the gov’t overstepping its bounds to control the people of America, trying to control how we raise our kids, instead of operating as representatives of the people’s wishes who elected THEM (or in this case elected the people who put Solis and company in their positions).
Dept of Labor Report “US Labor Department proposes updates to child labor regulations” (http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/whd/WHD20111250.htm)
USDA Report “Injuries to Youth on Farms in the United States, 2001, 2004, 2006, and 2009” (http://www.usda.gov/nass/PUBS/TODAYRPT/injr0412.pdf)