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The Stouffer Report: Serious proposal aims to remove children from farm activities

By State Sen. Bill Stouffer
When the federal government decides to update regulations, it usually makes folks nervous. This seems to be the case with the first changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to be proposed in 41 years.

The FLSA includes rules on minimum wage, overtime and child labor laws. It is the recommended changes to child labor laws, in relation to farmers, that have a lot of rural folks worried. In addition, those that work with youths enrolled in 4-H and FFA need to take note:The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division has announced it will now extend its comment period on proposed changes to the child labor laws to Dec. 1, 2011. This comes after several federal lawmakers and thousands of folks throughout the country asked for an extension of the comment period.

DOL announced in early September its plan to change agriculture-related child labor laws. Here are some of the proposed changes, according to DOL’s website:

* Strengthening current child labor prohibitions regarding agricultural work with animals in timber operations, manure pits, storage bins and pesticide handling.
* Prohibiting hired farm workers under the age of 16 from employment in the cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco.
* Prohibiting youth in both agricultural and nonagricultural employment from using electronic devices, including communication devices, while operating power-driven equipment.
* Prohibiting hired farm workers under the age of 16 from operating almost all power-driven equipment. A similar prohibition has existed as part of the nonagricultural child labor provisions for more than 50 years. A limited exemption would permit some student-learners to operate certain farm implements and tractors (when equipped with proper rollover protection structures and seat belts) under specified conditions.
* Preventing children under 18 years of age from being employed in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm-product raw materials. Prohibited places of employment would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions.

In other words, most of the activities handled by folks on the farm every day would be illegal for anyone under 16 or 18 years sold. I cannot imagine where these ideas came from, but I am pretty sure they were not thought of by someone who has ever set foot on a family farm. In all, there are 113 pages of revisions proposed by DOL.

I hope folks will take their time to look at these proposed changes and tell the federal government what they think of these over-the-top revisions that do nothing more than help kill off family farms everywhere. You can make your comments by clicking here, or visiting www.regulations.gov.

Senator Stouffer serves the counties of Carroll, Chariton, Cooper, Howard, Lafayette, Macon, Ray, Saline, and a part of Clay.See More

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One Response to The Stouffer Report: Serious proposal aims to remove children from farm activities

  1. Tina

    November 14, 2011 at 9:38 am

    I think everyone is over reacting….it states repeatedly “hired farm workers” Last time I checked a farmer’s children were not “hired” this law should not affect family farms at all.

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