Child Labor Law Revisions
One of the most controversial issues right now relating to agriculture is the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed revisions to child farm labor laws that would restrict farm work by youth under the age of sixteen. The DOL is basing the need for the revisions partly on recommendations made from the National Farm Medicine Center which reports that young people under sixteen and often even eighteen have not yet developed the cognitive ability to work with electric or motorized farm equipment, or deal with animals who may be ill or injured. While there are exemptions in the proposal for children working on family farms, most family farm advocates claim the exemptions are deceptive. No one in ag dismisses the need for farm safety. Farming and ranching are dangerous occupations, but the key to reducing youth injuries and tragic accidents on family farms does not lie in oppressive rules and regulations imposed by the government; even to the extent of disqualifying farm safety training for youth through 4-H or farm extension services. Unless of course the overlying goal is to completely destroy the concept of the family farm.