U.S. scraps rules to limit farm jobs done by kids

  • Article by: PAM LOUWAGIE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 27, 2012 - 9:19 PM

The Department of Labor had proposed barring young hired workers from some hazardous tasks.

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mom2fourApr. 27, 12 9:07 PM

The government needed to be taken down a notch. This is just one indication of how badly they needed to be put in their place. I suspect that the only reason they backed down is political. It was going to cost them way too many votes to pursue this. But, it should tell you who these people really are. Don't let them get us in a position where they are not accountable to us. Forewarned is forearmed!

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husker1983Apr. 27, 12 9:18 PM

Bravo, Kids might get hurt working on a farm but they will learn lifelong skills, a work ethic and responsibility. Fewer will die on a farm than will get into trouble if they aren't allowed to work. We all know kids will find something to consume their time.

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melvinApr. 27, 12 9:51 PM

I grew up in a farming community where my grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles on both sides were farmers. I helped at a young age.....starting @ 14yrs and even hiring out. There are few ways a young person can earn 'spending' money. I saved for school. I didn't catch which politican started this other than someone from Dept. of Labor. Again, the squeaky wheel gets the oil without proper vetting on how this would affect. I read that the law was for hired kids and not children of farmers. So, the feds were concerned about safety of hired kids, but not those of farmers? Limits on going higher than 6 feet. That is the trouble with laws.......or regulations. They are too limiting and have no account for common sense. This was a dumb ass, not thought out attempt. Life is full of danger. You can't make laws to protect everyone all the time without factoring in some common sense.

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swmnguyApr. 27, 1210:25 PM

I grew up on a farm. Started to work at 11; picking rock, walking beans, detasseling corn, baling hay, cleaning out hog and cattle barns; whatever I could do to make a little money.

Most of the farmers were more or less sensible, and didn't allow kids to do things that were overly dangerous. But there were always accidents, and fatigue and stress in planting and harvesting season seemed to increase those lapses that led to kids getting killed.

I remember a kid getting suffocated in a grain bin, like quicksand. I remember a couple of kids getting killed driving tractors down the side of ditches, rolling them over on themselves, at ages city people wouldn't think kids would be driving tractors. I remember a few incredibly grisly PTO disasters.

When I was a kid, most farming was done by family operators. I'm not sure that's as true anymore. These proposed regulations explicitly exempted children working on family farms. There are no child labor or overtime laws in farming, and very little workplace safety regulation.

From what I can tell, these rules would not have affected me as a kid working. They wouldn't have affected the sensible farmers who employ other people's kids. They would have prevented some deaths and major injuries, though. I hope this isn't a case of nostalgic remembrance clouding the understanding of how dangerous a workplace a farm is.

Farmers are a prickly, independent lot. They're prone to shooting themselves in the foot to prove a point, too. I remember them making fun of the guy with the oldest tractor; not considering that he didn't have a huge bank loan. I remember them refusing to stop ploughing their fields in the fall; then wondering why all the dirt blow off all winter and they had to use ever-more fertilizer the next year, at great cost But no-till was for hippies, I guess.

I hope this works out for the best and not too many farm kids get killed this year.

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bemmelApr. 28, 12 2:51 AM

The farms today are not your grampa's farm. They are huge corporate production operations that more resemble mining or fracking than the quaint notion of "family farms." Young people working there, either for parents or anyone else, should be protected. Some of the machinery and equipment used is extremely dangerous. There are power take-offs, augurs, pickers and other harvesting equipment that can and does eat a grown person often times. Many children are killed and lose limbs each year in farm accidents. In our area we have seen two 8-year-olds killed in ATV accidents just last week. These children need protection.

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pasaraApr. 28, 12 7:03 AM

Too bad. The baby was thrown out with the bathwater. The most egregious problems with the bill could have been addressed without scrapping the whole bill.

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rockoftruthApr. 28, 12 7:52 AM

I sure hope everyone remembers this come November. This is but one more example of Government over reach. The Liberal Democratic Elite is out of touch with mainstream America as evidence by some of these totally rediculous moves by government to control our lives.

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warren955955Apr. 28, 12 8:01 AM

Most farms are still family farms and not big corporate ventures. The big corporate farms do not hire kids anyway. I grew up on a farm and worked all the time for my dad and neighbor farmers to earn spending money. Lets keep the paper pushers off the farm and let the farmers take care of themselves. Government has enough of their own problems to fix

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rockoftruthApr. 28, 12 8:05 AM

swmnguy: I also remember the tragic accidents you refer to. However, I also remember young children drowning while swimming, being hit by vehicles, being killed in gang violence, etc. etc. Safety has come along way since we were on the farm. Use the 4H, FFA and other farm programs for youths to promote safety. Just because the government gets involved will certainly not solve the problem. Expend energy to get communities organizations and rural schools involved not write and pass laws that do no good but only shoulder the responsible with more regulations while those that are irresponsible ignore the law anyway. We all want to avoid tragic deaths of our children whether it involves a PTO or a sail boat.

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pitythefoolsApr. 28, 12 8:43 AM

According to a 2009 petition by Human Rights Watch: "Hundreds of thousands of children are employed as farmworkers in the United States, often working 10 or more hours a day. They are often exposed to dangerous pesticides, experience high rates of injury, and suffer fatalities at five times the rate of other working youth. Their long hours contribute to alarming drop-out rates. Government statistics show that barely half ever finish high school. According to the National Safety Council, agriculture is the second most dangerous occupation in the United States. However, current US child labor laws allow child farmworkers to work longer hours, at younger ages, and under more hazardous conditions than other working youths. While children in other sectors must be 12 to be employed and cannot work more than 3 hours on a school day, in agriculture, children can work at age 12 for unlimited hours before and after school."

Tell me again why farming is exempt from child labor laws?

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