In May, I wrote this blog about the dangers of children working in agriculture.  In the blog I warned that deadly accidents, such as the Mt. Carroll, IL incident last year, may bring increased federal regulation restricting child labor in agriculture.  It appears that warning has come to fruition.

The Department of Labor has recently proposed revisions to the Fair Labor Standards Act for child farm workers, which will severely limit agriculture employment for those under the age of 18.  For example:

Children under the age of 18 would no longer be allowed to work in elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, and livestock exchanges; and

Children under the age of 15 would no longer be able to operate power driven machinery (including those powered by animals) or ride as passengers in power driven machinery being operated on a public roadway.

The proposed rules do not apply to children who work for their parents on the family farm.  Furthermore, there are some exemptions for “student-learners” who are currently enrolled in vocational agriculture programs.  The Michigan State Extension Office has done a nice job of compiling the proposed changes in a short memo which you can find by clicking here.

Several groups have come out against the new rules including the Nebraska Cattlemen Association.  (Statement found on www. at this link)  The groups are concerned that children will not have the opportunity to learn and experience agriculture given the proposed restrictions, which may stunt interest in agriculture as a potential career.  In addition, the groups raise legitimate concerns that the exemption for children who work on the family farm does not apply when the farm or ranch is structured as a corporate entity.

The proposed revisions may substantially alter the workforce on a farm, ranch or other agribusiness.  Therefore, it is important to keep up to date on if and when such revisions take effect.