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DOL withdraws proposed youth agriculture rule

May 2, 2012

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Washington – Following intense criticism from the agriculture community and anti-regulation advocates, the Department of Labor withdrew a proposed rule that would have placed certain labor restrictions on children working on farms.

The proposal (.pdf file) would have revised child labor regulations to prohibit minors younger than 16 from operating most power-driven equipment or being involved in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm-product raw materials.

When the proposal was issued last September, labor officials said the rule – which would not have applied to children working on their parents’ farms – was warranted given the high rate of young worker deaths in the agriculture industry.

In an April 26 statement, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said her department was withdrawing the rule out of concerns for how it might affect small family-owned farms, which often employ youths who are not immediate family members.

Instead, Solis said, DOL and the Department of Agriculture will work with rural stakeholders to develop of an education program to promote safe work practices among youths in agriculture.

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