The Department of Labor (DOL) wants to implement new rules that would ban certain farm work for children under the age of 16.
The Department, according to NPR, says that children who work on farms are six times more likely to be killed or injured than those who do not. The DOL issued the first new child labor regulations in 40 years, which propose barring children under the age of 16 from performing tasks such as driving tractors, handling pesticides and branding cattle.
The regulations reportedly exempt family-owned farms, but only if they have not grown to the point of becoming incorporated.
The department also proposed preventing anyone under age 18 from working at stockyards, livestock auctions and commercial feed lots or grain elevators.
“So kids of individuals who are involved in a family corporation would no longer be able to help mom and dad on the ranch, on the farm. They wouldn’t be able to work with animals. They wouldn’t be able to work on hay wagons stacking bales six feet tall,” said Jordan Dux, national affairs coordinator with the Nebraska Farm Bureau. “There are lots of things that kids, typical farm practices, that … would be outlawed by the Department of Labor.”
Critics of the regulations see them as a direct assault on an American lifestyle and on getting young people interested in farming in the United States. Public outcry has caused the DOL to extend a forum for public comment on the regulations that was scheduled to end Nov. 1.