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Proposed rule on agricultural child labor

On Sept. 2, 2011, the Department published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise the child labor regulations to strengthen the safety requirements for young workers employed in agriculture. The current child labor agricultural hazardous occupations orders have not been updated since they were promulgated in 1970. The department is proposing a dramatic updating of these regulations based on the enforcement experience of the Wage and Hour Division, recommendations made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and a commitment to bring parity between the rules for agricultural employment and the more stringent rules that apply to the employment of children in nonagricultural workplaces. The proposed regulations would not apply to children working on farms owned by their parents.

The proposed updates include:

• Strengthening current child labor prohibitions regarding agricultural work with animals in timber operations, manure pits, storage bins and pesticide handling.



• Prohibiting hired farm workers under the age of 16 from employment in the cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco.

• Prohibiting youth in both agricultural and nonagricultural employment from using electronic devices, including communication devices, while operating power-driven equipment.



• Prohibiting hired farm workers under the age of 16 from operating almost all power-driven equipment. A similar prohibition has existed as part of the nonagricultural child labor provisions for more than 50 years. A limited exemption would permit some student-learners to operate certain farm implements and tractors (when equipped with proper rollover protection structures and seat belts) under specified conditions.

• Preventing children under 18 years of age from being employed in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm-product raw materials. Prohibited places of employment would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions.

Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted through Nov. 1, 2011, at http://www.regulations.gov.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) will be working with state Farm Bureaus in composing appropriate comments and will host a conference call on the issue in the near future. AFBF policy supports enforcement of federal child labor laws designed to prevent underage children from working in all industries and supports existing Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provisions, which specify and provide opportunities for young people of the proper age to perform certain agriculture jobs. The DOL proposal would not amend the FLSA but utilize existing regulatory authority to determine which agricultural occupations may not be performed by youth under the age of 18.

For more information, visit the Department of Labor Web site at: http://www.dol.gov/whd/CL/AG_NPRM.htm.

On Sept. 2, 2011, the Department published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise the child labor regulations to strengthen the safety requirements for young workers employed in agriculture. The current child labor agricultural hazardous occupations orders have not been updated since they were promulgated in 1970. The department is proposing a dramatic updating of these regulations based on the enforcement experience of the Wage and Hour Division, recommendations made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and a commitment to bring parity between the rules for agricultural employment and the more stringent rules that apply to the employment of children in nonagricultural workplaces. The proposed regulations would not apply to children working on farms owned by their parents.

The proposed updates include:

• Strengthening current child labor prohibitions regarding agricultural work with animals in timber operations, manure pits, storage bins and pesticide handling.

• Prohibiting hired farm workers under the age of 16 from employment in the cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco.

• Prohibiting youth in both agricultural and nonagricultural employment from using electronic devices, including communication devices, while operating power-driven equipment.

• Prohibiting hired farm workers under the age of 16 from operating almost all power-driven equipment. A similar prohibition has existed as part of the nonagricultural child labor provisions for more than 50 years. A limited exemption would permit some student-learners to operate certain farm implements and tractors (when equipped with proper rollover protection structures and seat belts) under specified conditions.

• Preventing children under 18 years of age from being employed in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm-product raw materials. Prohibited places of employment would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions.

Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted through Nov. 1, 2011, at http://www.regulations.gov.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) will be working with state Farm Bureaus in composing appropriate comments and will host a conference call on the issue in the near future. AFBF policy supports enforcement of federal child labor laws designed to prevent underage children from working in all industries and supports existing Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provisions, which specify and provide opportunities for young people of the proper age to perform certain agriculture jobs. The DOL proposal would not amend the FLSA but utilize existing regulatory authority to determine which agricultural occupations may not be performed by youth under the age of 18.

For more information, visit the Department of Labor Web site at: http://www.dol.gov/whd/CL/AG_NPRM.htm.


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