Child labor laws: Did agriculture shoot itself in the foot?

The Department of Labor’s proposed changes to child labor laws within agriculture is dead in the water. Many are celebrating it as a win for agriculture. But before we bust out the party hats and crepe paper, realize only the proposed laws were dropped.

There are current laws in place. Laws that some may not even know exist.

Even though they’ve been around for the past 40 years.

Current law states youth under 16 must complete a certification course in order to drive tractor for an employer.

If you hire a neighbor kid, a family friend, possibly even your niece or nephew, they are not supposed to drive a tractor, if they are under age 16, without going through a certification course.

Possibly your niece or nephew?

That’s right.

The laws in effect right now have a “parental exemption,” but guess what?

It’s the exact same one the industry was so critical of in the proposed regulation.
The same one that was written 40 years ago and as such doesn’t really fit the current business structure of agriculture.

The one the Department of Labor was going to rewrite to reflect the industry’s concerns.

Congratulations. Now we’re stuck with the very same parental exemption that raised the hairs on the back of your neck.

I think I just heard the last noise maker trail off.

It’s disappointing.

The Department of Labor proactively solicited feedback on the proposed regulation. And when we gave it to them, they set out to make changes and offer clarification. But because we as an industry came to the table with our defenses up, unwilling to seek compromise, agriculture has ended up with the exact same parental exemption they fought tooth and nail to avoid.

Did you know that would be the outcome?

Written by Tracy Schlater, marketing director for Farm Safety 4 Just Kids.


Must be 18-year-old to participate. 

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About Farm Safety For Just Kids

Farm Safety For Just Kids is a non-profit organization devoted to promoting a safe farm environment to prevent health hazards, injuries, and fatalities to rural children and youth. We produce and distribute educational materials addressing various dangers commonly found in the rural environment. Farm Safety For Just Kids is supported by a chapter network of grassroots volunteers located throughout the United States and Canada. The organization also has part-time outreach coordinators in several states. Chapters, outreach coordinators, and volunteers conduct educational programs to raise awareness about safety and health issues affecting their communities.
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One Response to Child labor laws: Did agriculture shoot itself in the foot?

  1. Pingback: What are today’s child labor laws? | The Next Generation: Farm Safety and Health

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