NFU submitted comments last week to the U.S. Department of Labor regarding new proposed child labor safety regulations for agricultural and agriculture-related jobs. NFU policy supports the intent of the new regulations to make workplaces safer for young people, but urges caution in implementing regulations that may discourage children from learning about agriculture.
"While farm safety is an issue of the utmost importance to NFU, we must be cautious to ensure that young workers are able to learn about agriculture and are not discouraged by regulations that are too strict," said NFU President Roger Johnson. "In a farm family, every member plays a valuable role in the economic success of the farm. Farming is a lifestyle that has been passed down from generation to generation. To ensure that family farms continue to be viable, it is critical that farmers are able to teach their children how to perform agricultural work safely and responsibly. The proposed regulations preserve that ability."
NFU also urged the Department of Labor to consider certain regulations that may be detrimental to the education of young workers. In the comments, NFU asked the department to clarify aspects of the parental exemption for children employed in agriculture to ensure they are able to continue working safely side by side with their family members.
"There are some provisions included in the rule that need modification," said Johnson. "Proposed restrictions on youth working in agriculture-related industries and the removal of student-learner exemptions for certain agricultural tasks could discourage youth from learning about or pursuing a career in agriculture or related trades. Now more than ever, we desperately need to support the next generation of farmers and agribusiness professionals. Participation in FFA, 4-H and vocational agriculture classes allows youth to learn how to safely perform agricultural tasks under close professional guidance." Click here to view the comments.