House Backs Obama Quashing of Safety Rules for Child Farmworkers

By | July 26, 2012

The House of representatives this week barred the labor secretary from imposing new safety rules for children working on farms, putting a legal stamp on a Labor Department decision to put off action on the rules.

The Labor Department announced last April that it would not go ahead with the proposed rules, saying the decision was made “in response to thousands of comments” expressing concerns about their effect on small family-owned farms. It added that the rules would not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.

But bill sponsor, Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, said that even with that assurance, legal action was necessary to make sure that federal bureaucrats in the future would not carry through with “misguided” regulatory attempts.

“The regulations imposed by the Department of Labor went beyond all common sense and would have destroyed opportunities for youth across the agricultural economy,” he said.

The Labor Department spent more than a year developing the new safety rules, which expanded and tightened existing regulations governing hired farm workers under the age of 16. The rules would have banned children younger than 16, except for student learners, from operating tractors and other power-driven machines; tightened restrictions on youth working with bulls and other potentially dangerous animals; and prohibited the hiring of those under the age of 18 for jobs in grain elevators, silos and stockyards.

The rules specifically exempted children working on their parents’ farms, but farm groups and farm state lawmakers said they ignored the realities of farm life and could affect children working on farms owned and operated by uncles, grandparents or other relatives.

The measure barring the new rules was approved by voice vote.

The only lawmaker to speak in opposition, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., said it “prevents a rule that has already been prevented by special interests” and which would have increased protections in an industry that is one of the most hazardous for young people.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., has introduced identical legislation in the Senate.

Latest Comments

  • July 31, 2012 at 1:24 pm
    Bob says:
    It's also interesting to note that after the markets were subsidized, poor people ate worse. We really need more subsidy eh? My nutritionist major friend revealed that one to ... read more
  • July 31, 2012 at 12:55 pm
    Bob says:
    Ever taken a look at what foods are subsidized? Ever heard about FDR's comment on why he subsidized farm markets? It was not to lower the cost of food you tool. He explicitly ... read more
  • July 30, 2012 at 12:28 pm
    Bob says:
    Which democrat Captain Planet? It better not be Clinton. He not once talked about balancing the budget. That was Newt and the 1995 republican congress. Clinton fought so hard ... read more
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