Last week's announcement by the Department of Labor (DOL) to re-propose the child farm labor rule was welcome news to many agricultural groups and farm families. The decision to reconsider the rule is a positive development, but there are still concerns within the agricultural community. 

The House Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade held a hearing after DOL's announcement on The Future of the Family Farm: The Effect of Proposed DOL Regulations on Small Business Producers. "Given the nature of agricultural education, I was pleased that the Department of Labor announced it was going to revisit a parental exemption regulation as it relates to young people working on family farms" said Scott Tipton, (R-Colo.), in comments made following the meeting. "This is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done."

"Other provisions of this proposed rule will still make it difficult, if not impossible, for young people to access comprehensive on-farm education and employment opportunities," Tipton said. "For example, the rule would still ban youth younger than 16 from doing certain activities on the farm such as using power-driven equipment."

A fifth-generation rancher, Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., delivered a personal account of the safety precautions taken and daily activities performed on a farm. He urged the DOL to reconsider other provisions of the rule. “As Chairman on Appropriations of Labor, I will have a rider on my appropriations bill that keeps [DOL] from implementing this rule. I know it’ll pass the House, and I’ll do everything I can to make sure it passes the Senate,” Rehberg told a DOL witness.

The hearing also featured testimony from Missouri pork producer Chris Chinn on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Source: House Ag Committee, National Pork Producers Council