DOL withdraws proposed youth labor rule

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON – The US Department of Labor (DOL) announced late on April 26 it was withdrawing its proposed rule that would have restricted the type of work youth could do in agriculture, citing concerns raised in “thousands of comments” it had received on the proposal.

“To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration,”
the agency said in a statement posted on its website.

"Instead, the Departments of Labor and Agriculture will work with rural stakeholders — such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the Future Farmers of America, and 4-H — to develop an educational program to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices."

J.D. Alexander, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president, commended the administration’s action and said farmers and ranchers made their voices heard on the proposed rule, which could have restricted, and in some instances totally prevented, America’s youth from working on farms and ranches.

In a media teleconference held on April 27, U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), said the proposed rule “didn’t make any sense.”

“I want to thank NCBA for its involvement in bringing the issue to the attention of the American people and the national media,” Rehberg said. “It took a joint effort. Frankly, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, who comes from Los Angeles, did not understand the issue. Initially when we started questioning the intelligence or common sense value of a regulation like this, it was falling on deaf ears.”

Rehberg said there is “a disconnect” and “a canyon” developing between urban and rural.

Rehberg thanked Secretary Solice and the Obama administration for withdrawing this regulation. “To have no one under the age of 16 being allowed to work with animals in a corral when dealing with branding, castrating, vaccinating, and not being able to get on a ladder taller than 6 feet —among other things — made this proposal ridiculous," he said.

“The administration made the right decision,” he added regarding yesterday’s move. “I’m sorry it took the pressure of the national media and the national organizations like NCBA to get the administration to recognize that this was a mistake...it made no common sense.”

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