Responding to proposed child labor regulations, the American Farm Bureau Federtion (AFBF) has filed comments on behalf of more than 70 agricultural organizations in response to a proposal by the Labor Department that would limit youth employment opportunities on farms and ranches. AFBF also filed separate comments on its own behalf supplementing its views on the DOL proposal.
The coalition comments focused on what Farm Bureau and other agriculture organizations see as over-reaching regulatory efforts by DOL. Most prominent is the proposal’s potential impact on family farms. The coalition comments urged the department “to maintain the integrity of the family farm exemption approved by Congress.”
“Farmers and ranchers are more interested than anyone else in assuring the safety of farming operations,” says AFBF president Bob Stallman. “We have no desire at all to have young teenagers working in jobs that are inappropriate or entail too much risk.”
Rights Must Be Protected
Stallman added that families, family partnerships and family corporations own 98 percent of the two million farms and ranches operating in the country, and “their right to manage their farms with family members is permitted by Congress.”
Farm Bureau also noted that the proposed regulation seems to go well beyond DOL’s authority. The department has the authority to prohibit youth employment in jobs that are “particularly hazardous” but the department’s proposal would prohibit youth from working with even ordinary “power-driven equipment.”
Read literally, the department’s proposal would prohibit a youth under 16 from working in any job that had simple power tools.
American Farm Bureau provided information for this article.