The U.S. Department of Labor is abandoning its plan to limit when children under the age of 16 can work on farms.
The plan, proposed in the fall, limited the Fair Labor Standards Act’s “parental exemption” and was intended to help reduce farm-related accidents. Introducing the now-defunct proposal, DOL officials said they were responding to studies showing that children are significantly more likely to be killed while performing agricultural work than while working in all other industries combined.
Since proposing the change, however, DOL officials have been inundated with comments from farm constituents requesting that the plan be nixed.
“The decision to withdraw this rule — including provisions to define the ‘parental exemption’ — was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms,” DOL said in an April 26 release.
“The Obama administration is firmly committed to promoting family farmers and respecting the rural way of life, especially the role that parents and other family members play in passing those traditions down through the generations. The Obama administration is also deeply committed to listening and responding to what Americans across the country have to say about proposed rules and regulations.”
In lieu of the rule change, DOL and the U.S Department of Agriculture now plan to work with various rural groups to develop an educational program to reduce accidents affecting young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices, according to an official release.