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Department of Labor Withdraws Controversial Child Labor Proposal for Farms

May 3, 2012

Last week, the Department of Labor (DOL) withdrew its contentious proposed rule restricting the work that children could do on farms. In a statement issued by the DOL, it was made clear that the proposed rule would not be pursued for the duration of the Obama Administration.

NMPF was encouraged by the Department’s recognition that the path it was on with this proposal was an affront to millions of family members on farms and ranches across America. Many of them had objected to what the Labor Department was planning to do, and they voiced their concerns to the DOL, as well as to Congress. The withdrawal of the proposal “is a victory for common sense,” according to NMPF President and CEO Jerry Kozak.

The proposed child labor rule would have changed the definition of the “parental exemption,” changed the student learner exemption, and significantly redefined what practices would be acceptable for youth under the age of 16 to participate in. These changes drew objections from NMPF, along with other major agricultural organizations, because of the significant impact the change would have had on rural communities and families. Instead, the DOL says it will work with rural stakeholders to develop education programs to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices.