Speaking with One Voice: Children in Agriculture

The proposed child labor law on farms and ranches that would have severely limited the way kids can work on the farm or ranch has been withdrawn! This is due to the passionate responses from people across the country who took the time to stand up and say something. While there was a parental exemption that was loosely defined, extended family and friends of farm and ranch kids would have been stripped of many of the experiences I had growing up on a cattle ranch.

Quick example: I went to a cattle branding a couple weeks ago. It was a traditional family/friend weekend with everyone pitching in. If these revisions had been in effect, most of the kids there wouldn’t have been able to join in on the fun.

In August 2011, I said focus should be shifted from child labor legislation to safety education. With the statement released yesterday, it appears that is the direction the powers-that-be are finally ready to move in.

Why? Because those in the rural U.S. pulled together and spoke with one voice about an issue that really impacted every sector of agriculture.

I want there to be less farm and ranch accidents. I want kids to be able to learn life skills and lessons in the great outdoors, and I want that to happen in a safe environment. I want to bring my nephews onto the ranch, teach them how to ride a horse and learn how to properly administer a vaccine.

Today I am thankful there won’t be legislation standing in the way of that.

Excerpt from U.S. Department of Labor statement on withdrawal of proposed child labor rule for agriculture

The Department of Labor announced the withdrawal of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 who work in agricultural vocations.

The decision to withdraw this rule – including provisions to define the ‘parental exemption’ – was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms. To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.

Instead, the Departments of Labor and Agriculture will work with rural stakeholders – such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the Future Farmers of America, and 4-H – to develop an educational program to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices.

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