House passes bill prohibiting DOL development of farm youth rule

Washington – The House passed a bill July 24 prohibiting the Department of Labor from developing a rule that would place certain labor restrictions on youths working on farms – a rule the department had previously announced it was abandoning.

The rule would have revised the Fair Labor Standards Act to prohibit minors younger than 16 from performing hazardous job duties such as operating certain equipment or transporting farm-product raw materials.

Rural lawmakers widely decried the rule and suggested the new restrictions could have dire economic and social impacts on family farms, many of which employ immediate and non-immediate youth relatives. Youths who work on a farm owned solely by their parents or guardians would have been exempt from the proposed rule’s provisions.

In April, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced DOL was withdrawing the rule and would not pursue it again under the Obama administration. Instead, Solis said, government agencies would work with stakeholders through educational efforts to promote safe working practices.

The Preserving America’s Family Farms Act (H.R. 4157) now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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