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Department Of Labor Withdraws Proposed Child Agriculture Labor Regulations

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Liza C. Moore
Foster Swift Agricultural Law Update
April 2012

On April 26, 2012, the Department of Labor announced that it would withdraw its proposed new rules regarding children in agriculture. Back in September 2, 2011 the DOL published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise child labor regulations in agriculture. By the December 1, 2011 close of the comment period on the proposed rules, over 10,000 comments were posted online. Public outcry against the proposed regulations was overwhelming. In response, on February 1, 2012, the DOL announced that it would re-propose the portion of its regulation interpreting the "parental exemption" in summer 2012. Now the DOL has decided not to go forward with the hotly contested regulations. The DOL issued the following statement yesterday:

"The Department of Labor is announcing today the withdrawal of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 who work in agricultural vocations."

"The decision to withdraw this rule – including provisions to define the 'parental exemption' – was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms. To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration."

"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."