The federal government has shelved proposed regulations that would have limited the work that children can perform on farms.
As originally drafted the new regulations would have barred kids under the age of 16 from handling farm chemicals or working in manure pits and storage bins. Kids under the age of 16 would have been prevented from running “power-driven equipment” on the farm, too.
Backers said the regulations would help prevent farms injuries and deaths, as the child death rate on farms is four times higher than in the general population. But the rules were ridiculed by Republican presidential candidates and drew heavy opposition from farm-state legislators of both parties as well as the ag industry.
Earlier this year the agency had proposed an exemption. It would have allowed kids under the age of 16 do those chores if the farm is owned by their family. Now, the U.S. Department of Labor has shelved the entire proposal “for the duration of the Obama Administration.”
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says limiting child labor on farms would have been “ridiculous” and “devastating” because it would have prevented kids from working on neighboring farms.
Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley says the regulations would have “struck at the heart” of Midwest farming and would have prevented him, as a kid, from detassling corn to earn extra money. Congressman Leonard Boswell, also a Democrat, suggests “reasoned heads prevailed” in the Department of Labor.
Republican Congressman Steve King says by even proposing the rule President Obama shows his life experience is “disconnected” from the heartland. Democratic Congressman Dave Loebsack says this rule reversal helps “protect Iowa’s way of life.”