It is with great sadness that we report that the US Department of Labor has withdrawn its proposed rule to protect children under 16 working in agriculture, seemingly under pressure from the Obama administration. The restrictions on child labor the DOL had sanctioned, based on expert research and proposed in mid-2011, would have added prohibitions on operating additional heavy machinery, working in silos and grain storage facilities, handling all pesticides, and working in the production of tobacco for children under 16 years of age.
Farms that were owned or operated by families would have been exempt. Somehow this fact was lost on opponents and in the wake of tremendous opposition to the proposed rules from assorted farm organizations and lobbies, Senators Thune and Moran proposed the Preserving America’s Family Farms Act.
Shine wants to express its very great disappointment in this decision by the DOL. There are hundreds of thousands of American children working under unspeakably harsh, and often very dangerous, work conditions that are unheard of in most other occupations. Somehow, the fact that these youngsters are poor and overwhelmingly Latino disallows them to receive the protections they need and deserve. We urge all who care to express their views to their Congressional representatives.
US DEPARTMENT OF LABOR NEWS RELEASE
WHD News Release: [04/26/2012]
Contact Name: Joshua R. Lamont or Elizabeth Alexander
Phone Number: (202) 693-4661 or x4675
Release Number: 12-0826-NAT
Labor Department statement on withdrawal of proposed rule dealing with children who work in agricultural vocations
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today issued the following statement regarding the withdrawal of a proposed rule dealing with children who work in agricultural vocations:
“The Obama administration is firmly committed to promoting family farmers and respecting the rural way of life, especially the role that parents and other family members play in passing those traditions down through the generations. The Obama administration is also deeply committed to listening and responding to what Americans across the country have to say about proposed rules and regulations.
“As a result, the Department of Labor is announcing today 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.”