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Agriculture Today

Child Labor Rule comments due Dec. 1

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November 30, 2011 | 2,517 views | Post a comment

The U.S. Department of Labor has published a notice of proposed rulemaking to revise child labor regulations for young workers employed in agriculture, according to a Nov. 23 American Soybean Association Leader Letter. Current child labor agricultural regulations have not been updated since 1970. The Department’s goal is to bring parity between the rules for ag employment and the more stringent rules that apply to the employment of children in non-ag workplaces.

The proposed regulations would not apply to children working on farms owned by their parents; by law, the child of a farmer is allowed to perform any task, even hazardous tasks, at any age on a farm owned or operated by the parent. This parental exemption also extends to children who are employed on a farm owned or operated by someone who is standing in place of a parent -- a relative or neighbor, for instance. The parental exemption would also apply to a youth who works for a farming partnership or corporation owned by the youth’s parents.

The American Soybean Association has joined in a broad coalition of agricultural stakeholders to provide input on the proposed rule. Some of the provisions the coalition will comment on are proposals to:

•Prevent youth less than 18 years of age from being employed in the storing, marketing, and transporting of farm product raw material in places such as grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feedlots, stockyards, livestock exchanges, and livestock auctions.

•Prohibit the employment of a hired farm worker under the age of 16 in any occupation involving working inside a manure pit.

•Prohibit youth under 15 years of age from being allowed to work near sexually mature livestock.

•Prohibit youth less than 18 years of age from all tasks that fall within the job of “pesticide handler” as determined by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Worker Protection Standard.

The deadline for comments is Thursday, Dec. 1, though a request for an extension has been requested by the ag stakeholders coalition. Detailed information about the proposed rule is available at Interested parties are invited to submit written comments on the proposed rule at

Editor’s note: The original deadline to submit comments was Nov. 1.

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