Rep. Owens glad Department of Labor rethinking regulation prohibiting children from working on family farm
Monday, February 6, 2012 - 2:23 pm

Rep. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) is expressing satisfaction that the Department of Labor is rethinking a regulation on child labor in agriculture that now that prevents children from working on their family farm.

In December, Owens wrote to Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis urging the department to drop changes that had been made to the “parental exemption” so that kids could once again work on their parents’ farm.

“I’m pleased the Department of Labor heard our concerns and decided to reevaluate this portion of the rule,” Owens said. “Addressing this issue is critical to ensuring young people can carry on the tradition of family farming that is integral to the economy in my district and across the country.”

Since 1966, the “parental exemption” has allowed children of any age who are employed by their parents to work on the family farm. Congress created the exemption when it expanded protections for children employed in agriculture and prohibited their employment in jobs the Department of Labor declared particularly hazardous for children under the age of 16 to perform.

The recently proposed change would have prevented children from working on a family farm that is only partially owned by their parents. Until the re-proposed rule is final, the Department will apply prior regulations with broader language used before the proposed rule that include parents who are partial owners of an agricultural operation. The Department of Labor expects to propose a new “parental exemption” rule this summer.