The kids can keep working on the farm after all.
The United States Labor Department has given up on efforts to ban children from working on farms other than their own. The proposed rule became immediately controversial in farm states such as Nebraska, where agriculture groups criticized it as government overreach and an indication of how Washington is out of touch with rural America.
The Labor Department had promoted it as a way to ensure the safety of youth working on the farm. In its reversal, the department said it withdrew the proposal to protect “the rural way of life.” The regulation would have prohibited youth under 16 from working on farms other than those operated by their family.
Reaction to the Labor Department reversal was swift in Nebraska.
“Withdrawing this illogical rule is good news for families involved with agriculture and future generations of farmers and ranchers,” Sen. Mike Johanns said in a written statement released by his office. “It took a while, but I’m glad common-sense finally prevailed. I hope this isn’t an isolated incident and will carry over to other overly burdensome regulations proposed by this Administration.”
“This is a major victory for farmers and ranchers in Nebraska and across the country,” according to a written statement issued by Congressman Adrian Smith. “Just as it seemed like the Labor Department would move forward with its terribly misguided rule, common sense has prevailed. Rural families can breathe a little easier knowing it won’t be illegal for their kids to be involved in agriculture, the lifeblood of Nebraska’s economy.”
The Labor Department published notice of the rule in September of last year. In December, Smith along with 152 other members of Congress signed a bipartisan letter urging Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to re-evaluate the proposed rule.
The Nebraska Farm Bureau released a lengthy statement from president Steve Nelson, stating it was elated with the department’s decision to withdraw the proposed rule.
“This is a true victory for farm and ranch families everywhere. This decision will continue to allow us to maintain the valued traditions of our rural way of life by providing opportunities for children to actively participate on agriculture operations.”
“No one cares more about the safety of children working in agriculture more than those farmers and ranchers who allow their children, their neighbors and young people to the opportunity to work on their farms and learn first-hand the skills and passion needed to provide food for families everywhere. This rule would have been unbelievably restrictive preventing young people from being able to get their hands dirty on farms and ranches across our state.”
The Farm Bureua had launched a campaign “Let Me Get My Hands Dirty” to encourage farmers, their children and FFA students across Nebraska to share their concerns about the proposal. The Nebraska Farm Bureau collected over 1,800 signatures from Nebraska FFA students in opposition to the proposed rule.
Nebraska Cattlemen also released a written statement.
“The withdrawal of the proposed child labor regulations comes as a relief to the farmers and ranchers in Nebraska because now they can continue to teach their children about the importance of agriculture through first hand experiences,” stated Jim Ramm, Nebraska Cattlemen President.