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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Proposed Farm Safety Regs for Kids

In the January 25th edition of USA Today’s Money section, reporter Judy Keen addresses front and center the proposed limits on what kids can do on farms, but are these proposed regulations too rigid?

These new rules would:

*prohibit children under 16 who are being paid from operating most power driven equipment, including tractors and combines. Some student-learners would be exempted from the ban on operating tractors and other farm implements, but only if the equipment has rollover protection and seat belts.

*keep those under 19 from working at grain elevators, silos, feedlots and livestock auctions and from transporting raw farm materials.

*prevent kids 15 and under from cultivating, curing and harvesting tobacco to prevent exposure to green tobacco sickness (caused by exposure to wet tobacco plants).

*prohibit youths from using electronic devices i.e. cell phones while operating power-driven equipment.

The legal age for children to be employed on a farm is 16 and that wouldn’t change. The Fair Labor Standards Act also allows kids 12 to 15 to have non-hazardous farm jobs under certain conditions. And the above proposed regulations wouldn’t apply to kids working at farms owned by their parents (family farms), but they would prevent the kids from doing some jobs for pay at neighbors and relatives farms.

Proposed regulations have a time period for public comments. During that time more than 18,000 public comments were posted. These comments were then published in September in the Federal Register and raised the hackles of many farmers and ranchers.

Safety is very important for all farm workers. A fact not lost on farm families who make it a point to teach and practice safety on the farm.

But a very important point is made at the end of the article: if rural youth are going to be forced to get jobs in town rather than on the farm, where are future farmers going to come from?

Good point.

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