NC against child labor regulations

Nov 4, 2011
by WLJ

Early and extensive training of younger generations is vital to the future of the beef cattle industry. Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) understands this concept which is why they submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) opposing the proposed child labor regulations.

NC opposes these regulations because rather than trying to find safety solutions, DOL has opted, by regulation, to effectively prohibit young workers from being employed in agriculture at all. No longer would a child under the age of 18 be able to work at a grain elevator or sale barn. A child under the age of 16 would not be able to drive any power-operated machinery, work in a grain silo or herd livestock. “Without these types of experiences, people become further disconnected with food production and its role in their daily lives,” states Chuck Folken, NC president.

Perhaps most concerning to NC is the erosion of the parental exemption which allows children to be employed at any age and perform any task if employed by their own parents. Under the proposed regulations, a child will not qualify for this exemption if they are employed by a business entity that is not wholly owned by their parent(s). “Modern agriculture is taking advantage of the tax and liability benefits from organizing as a business entity,” says Folken; “just because it is now Brother & Brother, Inc. should not prevent their own children from being able to work for them.”

NC also believe the proposed regulations do not recognize the dramatic improvements in agriculture machinery safety such as rollover guards and operator presence technology. — WLJ