Late Thursday the Department of Labor dropped a number proposed changes to it’s child labor laws. Most notably bans on whether minors can work on family farms or in agriculture related jobs.
At North Scott High School it’s a busy time of year for these FFA members. They’re weeding and watering hundreds of plants in school’s green house. But for many of these future farmers this is one of their easiest projects.
“In the fall I do a lot of the fall tillage and that kind of stuff. Doing chores and everything and making sure everything runs smoothly.”
“Between lambs, pigs, goats, anything you name I probably show it.”
Most all of these kids are under 18, and most all of them have been working on the family farm for years. But now the Department of Labor is considering putting serious limits on what these kids can and cannot do.
“I have students that are marketing their own hogs start to finish. That project would be completely out of the water.”
Under the proposals kids under the age of 18 could not:
-Store, market or transport raw farm materials
-Work on grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges or auctions.
-Use power take off devices
-Use any piece of equipment that stands over 6 feet tall
-Or do anything that would cause pain to an animal
“Yeah that seems like it’s almost impossible. I know with my dad working on the farm he’s getting older, he’s not able to do a lot of the stuff, he needs help. He needs somebody to be there to work on some of the stuff.”
“It’s a little frustrating. It’s my project I want to be the one to work on it. I’m learning with what I’m doing with my animals how to make a better product for the world someday.”
Many students writing their legislators telling them they want to work, and they want the added responsibilities.
“A lot of people that are making the rules don’t understand what’s really going on and working out there.”
The kids we talked with say it boils down to the fact that they don’t want to be babied.
“I’ve hurt myself a couple times, but I understand what I did wrong. I’m learning from my mistakes you have to. You can’t just have everybody telling you no you can’t do this.”
According to the US Department of Agriculture the number of minors injured in farming accidents has fallen by 40% over the last 11 years.