Youth Working in Agriculture
Mark O’Neill, Media Relations Director
510 S. 31st Street , Camp Hill, PA 17001 , (717) 761-2740 or E-mail
PA Farm Bureau Voices Concerns and Opposition to Proposed Restrictions on Youth Working in Agriculture
(Camp Hill) – Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) submitted written comments to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that include concerns about proposed changes to laws that would excessively limit work by youth on farms.
“The restrictions and regulations proposed by the labor department would negatively affect the children of farm families as well as youngsters who don’t live on a farm, including those who participate in 4-H and FFA activities. If the proposed rules are adopted, there will be a drastic change in the nature of work that youth under age 16 can perform in agriculture,” said PFB President Carl T. Shaffer.
Farm Bureau notes that DOL claims its “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” will not change the “parental exemption” in the current law, but Farm Bureau says DOL’s new language would not include an exemption for farms that are incorporated or formed as family partnerships.
“Many farm families in Pennsylvania and across the United States have incorporated or formed a family partnership for estate planning, insurance and other reasons. They are still family farms with moms and dads making the decisions over what work duties their children have been trained to do and are capable of doing in a safe manner. Farmers understand that there are potential dangers on the farm and they abide by existing farm labor laws,” added Shaffer.
Meanwhile, the proposed regulations could prohibit or seriously limit 4-H and FFA youth enrolled in vocational training in agriculture, or Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE), from working on farms. Other non-farm youth, such as neighbors, nephews and nieces, would also not be allowed to perform many typical farm tasks under the DOL notice.
Some of the new regulations would require a significant increase in the amount of coursework for tractor-safety certification for operators of all tractors, including lawn and garden tractors, would prohibit students under 16 from working in a barn that has mechanical equipment and prohibit students from working with animal husbandry practices.
“Farm families already struggle to meet labor needs. The proposed regulations would put more strain on the labor force and greatly diminish hands-on learning opportunities with animals and agriculture education programs and the ability to attract youth for a future in agriculture,” concluded Shaffer.
The American Farm Bureau Federation also filed comments on behalf of more than 70 agricultural organizations in response to the Labor Department’s over-reaching regulatory efforts.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization with a volunteer membership of more than 53,000 farm and rural families, representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.