WASHINGTON – National Farmers Union submitted comments earlier this month to the U.S. Department of Labor regarding new proposed child labor safety regulations for agricultural and agriculture-related jobs. NFU policy supports the intent of the new regulations to make workplaces safer for young people, but urges caution in implementing regulations that may discourage children from learning about agriculture.
“Farm safety is an issue of the utmost importance to NFU, and I commend the department on its efforts to make workplaces safer for young workers,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “In a farm family, every member plays a valuable role in the economic success of the farm. Farming is not simply an occupation, but a lifestyle that has been passed down from generation to generation. In order to ensure the viability of our family farms for the future, it is critical that farmers are able to teach their children how to perform agricultural work safely and responsibly. The proposed regulations preserve that ability.”
NFU also urged the Department of Labor to look at certain rules that may be overreaching.
“There are some provisions included in the rule that need modification,” said Johnson. “For example, proposed restrictions on youth working in agriculture-related industries and the removal of student-learner exemptions for certain agricultural tasks may serve to discourage youth from learning about or pursuing a career in agriculture or related trades at a time when we desperately need to support the next generation of farmers and agribusiness professionals. Participation in FFA, 4-H and vocational agriculture classes allows youth to learn how to safely perform agricultural tasks under close professional guidance.”
NFU also suggested the department take this opportunity to clarify certain aspects of the parental exemption for children employed in agriculture to help ensure family youth are able to continue the tradition of working safely side by side with their family members.