WASHINGTON – The federal Department of Labor has withdrawn a controversial proposal for regulating child labor, a proposal that Farm Bureau leaders feared would alter family farming and deter youths from careers in agriculture. The DOL issued a statement late last week, saying it won’t take up the issue again during the Obama Administration.
In a prepared statement, DOL officials said they will instead work with rural stakeholders – such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the Future Farmers of America, and 4-H – to develop an educational program to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices.
The regulation could have been interpreted to prevent youths under 16 from unloading trucks, cleaning refrigerators and other jobs operating any power-driven equipment. The regulation was so broadly stated that it could have meant young teens can’t use battery-powered flashlights or a lawn mower.
New York Farm Bureau and other Farm Bureaus throughout the country have been rallying their members against the DOL proposal. The federal agency received about 10,000 comments about the proposed regulations, with about 9,000 soundly against it. Chautauqua County legislature last week also unanimously supported a motion last week, which was sponsored by legislator Fred Crosscut (R-Sherman), calling on the DOL to withdraw the proposal.