Labor Dep’t drops regulations banning kids from working on farms other than parents’

posted at 10:05 pm on April 26, 2012 by Allahpundit

Alternate headline: “Obama administration decides against picking pointless, hugely politically perilous fight in election year.”

“The decision to withdraw this rule — including provisions to define the ‘parental exemption’ — was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms,” the Department said in a press release Thursday evening. “To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.” [Translation: “Please, please let’s forget about this.” — ed.]

The rule would have dramatically changed what types of chores children under the age of 16 could perform on and around American farms. It would have prohibited them from working with tobacco, operating almost all types of power-driven equipment and being employed to work with raw farm materials.

“Prohibited places of employment would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions,” read a press release from last August…

Parents and children who grew up on farms across the country told TheDC that the rule was overprotective and would have prevented kids from learning valuable skills at early ages.

We didn’t blog this yesterday but I think part of the reason the original story broke big online was that some readers thought the regs would have barred kids from working on their own parents’ farm. Not so. See Doug Mataconis’s piece at Outside the Beltway clarifying that point. In fact, if you read down into Wednesday’s DC piece, it notes right there that there’s a parental exemption to the regulations. The concern was (a) that kids would be barred from doing “hazardous” chores for extended family like uncles and grandparents and (b) that the exemption might only apply to farms that are wholly owned by a child’s parents and not farms in which they own merely a share. Not sure that fear was well founded, though:

“It’s good the Labor Department rethought the ridiculous regulations it was going to stick on farmers and their families,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. “To even propose such regulations defies common sense, and shows a real lack of understanding as to how the family farm works.”

The surprise move comes just two months after the Labor Department modified the rule in a bid to satisfy opponents. The agency made it clear it would exempt children who worked on farms owned or operated by their parents, even if the ownership was part of a complex partnership or corporate agreement

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., a grain farmer known to till his fields on weekends away from Washington, had come out strongly against the proposed rule. The Democrat continued to criticize the Obama administration rule even after it was tempered earlier this year, saying the Labor Department “clearly didn’t get the whole message” from Montana’s farmers and ranchers.

What if several generations of a family own a farm together but don’t have the right type of ownership agreement? Who knows? Don’t sweat the details, though. The takeaway from this story is that someone in the Labor Department actually thought the White House would let them construct a “big liberal government clamping down on family farms in the heartland” narrative for the GOP six months out from a presidential election. I’m actually surprised it took them a whole day to back down. Presumably Axelrod had to wait to call Hilda Solis because he was literally rendered speechless.

Coming soon from the Labor Department, presumably: Exciting new regulations on mom and apple pie.

Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air


Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.


Trackback URL


Comment pages: 1 2

Obama and the Pigford settlement. scores of thousands of black farmers in the south. Of course they have free child labor. It hits them the worst because they are share croppers. They are not owners. If the farming is done as a tennant and pays rent, they law would have applied.

seven on April 27, 2012 at 11:02 AM

“To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.” Lets be clear ? Since when. This absolutely ridiculous rule will be implemented in 2nd admin in Jan or Feb ’13 if we do not vote in the biggest numbers ever.

democratsarefools on April 27, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Growing up, my dad employed half the neighborhood kids on his farm. Glad they stepped this one back… for now. But if he’s reelected, he will have “more flexibility” than he does now. *Shudder!*

UnderstandingisPower on April 27, 2012 at 12:18 AM

Ya this whole thing is a load of fertilizer. They don’t want kids growing up with a work ethic and experience.
My parents weren’t farmers, but I started working on farms when I was 10 for about 25 cents an hour – weeding plants. I kept working on various farms nearby doing everything you can think of needed on farms – until high school when I got a job washing dishes at a Howard Johnson’s. The Dems want to kill that kind of work ethic because people like us are far too self-sufficient for their taste.

dentarthurdent on April 27, 2012 at 11:29 AM

To be clear, Obamaismites are doing whatever they can to break down the family and increase dependency on government largesse: which means EVERY Obama act increases government control of America instead of increasing control by the people.

dahni on April 27, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Get out of our lives, creeps.

TerryW on April 27, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Most of the outrage was from 4H and the FFA.

OliverB on April 27, 2012 at 11:55 AM

And every time the Democrats call Republicans “extremists”, we need to bring this and the attempt to shut down Boeing and the pending regulation of dirt to the attention of folks. As bad as the economy is, THIS is the absolute essence of tyranny and loss of freedom. Arresting kids for lemonade stands is something even Kardashian-watching citizens understand.

Portia46 on April 27, 2012 at 12:40 PM

but I think part of the reason the original story broke big online was that some readers thought the regs would have barred kids from working on their own parents’ farm.

This is absolutely what people were thinking. After tons of comments had been made the truth teamers were out there screaming for people to listen to them and read the actual regulation. I did. I had misundertood too. But I will admit I enjoyed watching them be ignored.

I guess nobody messes with the family farm because the response was pretty amazing. My 72 yr old father had heard it and he has nothing to do with the internet.

magicbeans on April 27, 2012 at 2:01 PM

We didn’t blog this yesterday but I think part of the reason the original story broke big online was that some readers thought the regs would have barred kids from working on their own parents’ farm. Not so.

Minimum wage laws have always had an exception for farm labor. One of the benefits of having a huge lobby.

So it’s a pretty big story regardless of whether it applies to children working on their families’ farms or not.

I have to laugh. The reversal on this was so absolutely predictable that it really, really needs to be an Obamateurism.

tom on April 27, 2012 at 4:15 PM

This is all part of a master plan to eliminate family farms. The farms then get absorbed into the gargantuan corporate farms. Those agribusinesses then become “too big to fail,” and Obama nationalizes the industry to “protect America’s food supply.” Far-fetched? Yes. Beyond the imaginations of the leftists in the Obama administration? Not at all.

Colony14 on April 27, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Comment pages: 1 2