The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) yesterday announced it is withdrawing its proposed regulation regarding farm employment of minors after ARA and other agricultural groups protested that the restrictions would unfairly impact family farms. ARA joined the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Grain & Feed Association, and many others in submitting a coalition letter regarding the misguided proposal. “This constitutes a victory for farm families and the industries like ARA that firmly backs them. The overwhelming grassroots support in opposition to this regulation shows the strength of American agriculture.” said Daren Coppock, ARA president and chief executive officer.
Yesterday, DOL released a statement: “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”. (See DOL press release here)
After reading the statement, Coppock declared: "ARA appreciates the Department of Labor for not only reconsidering, but actually withdrawing this misguided rule proposal. Had it moved forward, the rule would have had serious impacts in rural America; not only immediate impacts on labor availability for farm production, but it also would have hampered the ability of young people to have 4H and FFA projects that involve work experience. It was a prime example of how a rule hatched in Washington with noble intentions can have far-reaching and negative impacts where the rule actually takes effect."
The discountinued proposed rule by the Wage and Hour Division would have amended existing FLSA child labor regulations and incorporated them into enforcement policies aimed at imposing steep civil money penalties at farmers for child labor violations.
ARA will continue to work with USDA and 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 and promote safer agricultural working practices.