Late last week, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division withdrew its widely criticized proposed rule restricting children under the age of 16 from doing regular farm chores.
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) was among the many agriculture groups that had lobbied against the measure and now applauds the DOL for “listening to the thousands of comments submitted by pork producers and other farmers.”
The proposed rule originally surfaced in September 2011. It would have prohibited children younger than 16 years old from working in agricultural environments. DOL’s action prompted an extended campaign among agricultural groups, farmers and rangers to get the DOL to change its proposal. While the original effort was pitched as a youth safety measure, in reality it would have significantly limited farm kids from working on their own family farms. Members of Congress representing rural agricultural districts also stepped forward to campaign against the DOL rule.
In December, NPPC, the American Sheep Industry Association and the National Turkey Federation, submitted comments opposing the rule.
“This is just simple common sense. Rural American farming families teach their children the values of farming by having them do farm chores every day. The government should not be regulating these life lessons,” says NPPC President R.C. Hunt, a pork producer from Wilson, N.C.
In its statement, DOL officials said that they and the USDA will work with national agricultural stakeholders “to develop an educational program to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices.’
To read the DOL statement, click here.