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December 1st, 2011
New Child Labor Law Changes

Labor law changes would permanently change farm life.

Proposed changes by the Department of Labor to child labor regulations could cause severe damage to farms and forever alter the rural way of life.

The changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act would affect the parameters for the employment of minors under the age of 18 years-old in both agricultural and non-agricultural industries. The proposal involves specific recommendations from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and they claim the legislation only affects hired farm workers and in "no way compromise the statutory child labor parental exemption involving children working on farms owned or operated by their parents."

But agriculture groups like the Farm Bureau say that while that is technically true, it does not even begin to examine the impact the changes would have on rural communities and farm life. Mike Schumm of Willshire and the 5th District Trustee for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation told the Times Bulletin the DOL has very narrowly defined the parent farm exemption. For instance, if this proposed legislation passes, then Schumm's teenage children would no longer be legally allowed to work on their grandparents' farm or his brother's. Also, as another example, if two brothers farm together and form a Limited Liability Company (LLC), then the teenagers would not be able to work on the farm at all because of the structure of the ownership.

"We are very concerned about it," Schumm said. "It is, in essence, tearing apart the family farm."

Other changes would also include:

- Anyone under the age of 16 could not operate power-driven machines (i.e. - a tractor) without a parent or guardian supervising.

- Teenagers would be prohibited from handling non-castrated livestock older than six months, sows with suckling pigs, or cows with a newborn calf.

- Teenagers would not be allowed to be around livestock in situations where the animals' behavior might be erratic or unpredictable like during shots, dehorning, branding, or breeding.

- They will no longer be allowed to catch chickens to take to market.

- They will no longer be allowed to herd animals either on horseback or on equipment like an ATV.

- Teenagers would never be allowed to work at heights above six feet from the floor, including on a ladder.

The DOL in September said interested parties would have 60 days to comment on the more than 100 pages of changes to the existing laws. After receiving requests from members of Congress and various agricultural groups, the agency pushed back the comment period to December 1.

Schumm said a big concern is about awareness of the issues.

"I don't know if a lot of people know about it," he said. "That's the problem."



Citizen - 2011-12-01
Another example of the government putting its nose where it doesnt belong. Family farms should be left alone. I know some crain storage companies kill 14 yr, old kids in the middle west farm belt. But this is a different situation.
by Bill Lee

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