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December 07, 2016
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Farm youth work directive reversed; opponents say decision is bad for young migrant workers

PFB also was troubled by a proposed rule that would have severely restricted non-farm youths involved in Future Farmers of America (FFA) and 4-H programs from working with any livestock for the purpose of agriculture education.

“The next generation of farmers will likely come from children raised on farms as well as others who are exposed to agriculture during their youth,” Shaffer said. “We must continue to support programs that encourage people to pursue careers in agriculture.”

Farm bureau officials noted that safety on the farm remains a top priority for all workers, especially children. “Responsible farmers are not going to allow their children or any other youngsters to take on a task that they are not capable of doing safely,” Shaffer said. “We are pleased that DOL has recognized the benefit of working with farm organizations, such as farm bureau, FFA, 4-H and others to improve already effective farm-youth safety programs.”

On the other hand, David Strauss, executive director of the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs, which is an advocate organization for migrant and seasonal farm workers in the United States, said, “We are profoundly disappointed the administration will not be pursuing the proposed protections for children employed in agriculture. These were common sense protections that would have saved many children’s lives.”

According to a press release on the AFOP website, an exemption in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 protects the tradition of children working on their parents’ farm and, according to the DOL factsheet on the bill, the agricultural protections would have only applied “to those children involved in an employer/employee relationship.”

Read a factsheet on this bill.