Friday, February 24, 2012

Child Labor Laws Troublesome on the Farm


MIDDLETON -- For some, working on a farm may have been your first job as kid. In an agricultural state like Idaho, lots of youngsters spend their summers and after school hours doing farm chores and earning cash. But, proposed federal rules could threaten that age old aspect of farm life.

Recently the U.S. Department of Labor proposed a rule that would prohibit children under the age of 16 from working on a farm owned by anyone other than their parents.

After an outcry from many farmers and parents, this rule has been put on hold for further discussion, but many are worried this could become law.

“We think that's preposterous, we think that it’s un-American and we don't like it,” said Jake Putnam, spokesperson for the Idaho Farm Bureau.

Farm bureaus and lawmakers across the country have banned together in opposition of the proposed rule that they say goes too far.

“They cannot work around any sort of equipment. They can't move pipe,” said Putnam. “They can't stack hay, they can't even ride horses in confined areas.”

Sid Freeman of Middleton, a longtime farmer, employed many of his children’s friends over the years.

“Those kids parents loved it because their kids learned how to work,” said Freeman.

Freeman says the life skills and work ethic provided by working in the fields is something that can’t be learned anywhere else.

Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch have joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers in detailing their concerns and requesting the Department of Labor withdraw the proposed rule.

The Department of Labor is currently taking comment. No word on when they could make a decision.

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