The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) has responded to this week’s announcement on the U.S. Labor Department’s intention to re-propose child labor regulations. The statement was made by Bob Stallman, AFBF president.

Previously, AFBF filed comments on behalf of more than 70 agricultural organizations in response to a proposal by the Labor Department that would limit youth employment opportunities on farms and ranches. AFBF also filed separate comments on its own behalf supplementing its views on the DOL proposal.

The comments focused on what Farm Bureau and other agriculture organizations see as over-reaching regulatory efforts by DOL. Most prominent is the proposal’s potential impact on family farms.

“The decision by the Labor Department to re-propose the ‘parental exemption’ in the child labor rule is a positive step, but much more work is needed,” Stallman said. “We will continue to work with the administration to address our concerns with the rule. Any final regulation must make sense, not infringe on the traditional rights of family farms and not unnecessarily restrict the ability of young people to work in agriculture. As DOL’s proposed rule stands currently, that is not the case.”

“Farm work has always played a significant role in the lives of rural youth across the country, whether they are milking cows on their grandparents’ farm or harvesting apples as a summer job. DOL’s rule would have a detrimental effect on family farms and would create an even tighter supply of farm labor when it’s already in short supply.

“Farm and ranch families are more interested than anyone else in assuring the safety of farming operations. We have no desire at all to have young teenagers working in jobs that are inappropriate or entail too much risk. But, laws and regulations need to be sensible and within reason – not prohibiting teenagers from performing simple everyday farm functions like operating a battery-powered screwdriver.

“We appreciate Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s diligent work on the issue and look forward to working with USDA and DOL further on establishing a rule that respects the importance of youth farm work in rural America and the importance it plays in our system of family-based agriculture.”

Source: American Farm Bureau Federation