The Associated Press reports potential restrictions by the U.S. Labor Department have farmers worried about the future of agriculture.
Proposed restrictions would prohibit children under age 16 from using power equipment, working with livestock in certain circumstances, driving tractors or working at heights above six feet.
While statistics show the risks of farm labor, nearly 29 out of every 100,000 farm workers in the U.S. die on the job, according to the National Safety Council, farmers have seen life lessons and work ethic shaped through responsibilities given to youth on the farm.
The new laws won’t apply to direct offspring of farm owners, but if the operator doesn’t own the farm their children can’t complete tasks listed in the new laws. Nieces, nephews and neighborhood children will be restricted by the proposed laws.
Michael Hancock, the assistant administrator for policy at the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division, says the new laws won’t eliminate all jobs responsibilities for youth on the farm.
"There's any number of things kids can do on a farm that will be totally unaffected by these regulations," Hancock said. For instance, he said, they can still detassle corn, haul hay and feed cattle.
Farm organizations are concerned the laws will create a barrier for children, preventing them from gaining hands-on experience in agriculture.
Read Ag groups ask for changes to proposed child labor regulations by Rick Jordahl, Associate Editor, Pork Network.
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