Several people sent me this news about the US Department of Labor banning farm chores, so I thought I would take a look at it.
Google news showed that the citations were all from social conservative sites, and most if not all were quoting a single site that printed this news this morning. No major news media was carrying the story.
Here is what I found out about it. You can read the entire story here.
I like the way this author ended his piece. 'Trust, but verify.' We are in a period of growing hysteria.
Demagogues will attempt to sway people and move them to action, often to counter legitimate complaints and efforts at reform, and to undermine legitimate protests.
This sort of urban mythology and demonization can become very dangerous, especially when it starts looking for scapegoats among minorities. The haters are coming, at least according to history, and you do not want any part of it.
Look for the facts and make up your own mind.
"...The conservative social web has been freaking out this morning over a story from the Daily Caller who reported:
Rural kids, parents angry about Labor Dept. rule banning farm choresTwitchy even highlighted some of the knee-jerk reactionaries (I’m laughing with some of you) who took to Twitter to create the #ObamaFarmChores hashtag to mock the supposed impending doom of farm chores for boys and girls across America. Not that the kids would mind. Amiright?!
A proposal from the Obama administration to prevent children from doing farm chores has drawn plenty of criticism from rural-district members of Congress. But now it’s attracting barbs from farm kids themselves.
The Department of Labor is poised to put the finishing touches on a rule that would apply child-labor laws to children working on family farms, prohibiting them from performing a list of jobs on their own families’ land.
Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2012/04/25/rural-kids-parents-angry-about-labor-dept-rule-banning-farm-chores/
This Internet urban (or rural, in this case) myth is much ado about nothing. In the very US Labor Department proposal that the Daily Caller cited, the language is clear about this. From the 2nd paragraph of the US Labor Department proposal (my emphasis in bold):
The department is proposing updates based on the enforcement experiences of its Wage and Hour Division, recommendations made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and a commitment to bring parity between the rules for young workers employed in agricultural jobs and the more stringent rules that apply to those employed in nonagricultural workplaces. The proposed regulations would not apply to children working on farms owned by their parents.Also, getting everyone in a tizzy is the rumor that 4-H would be eliminated under this proposal. Not true. From the US Labor Department site:
There are some portions of this US Labor proposal that do need some attention, but not the one being widely misreported. The lesson here: trust, but verify."
Five Facts about the Proposed Child Labor in Agriculture RuleFact # 1: The proposed Child Labor in Agriculture rule will not prohibit all people under the age of 18 from working on a farm.
The proposed rule would not change any of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum age standards for agricultural employment. Under the FLSA, the legal age to be employed on a farm without restrictions is 16. The FLSA also allows children between the ages of 12 and 15 years, under certain conditions, to be employed outside of school hours to perform nonhazardous jobs on farms. Children under the age of 12 may be employed with parental permission on very small farms to perform nonhazardous jobs outside of school hours.
Young people can be employed to perform many jobs on the farm – and this would be true even if the proposed rule were adopted as written. The proposed rule would, however, prohibit the employment of workers under the age of 18 in nonagricultural occupations in the farm-product raw materials wholesale trade industries. Prohibited establishments would include country grain elevators, grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, feed yards, stockyard, livestock exchanges, and livestock auctions not on a farm or used solely by a single farmer. What these locations have in common is that many workers, including children, have suffered occupational deaths or serious injuries working in these facilities over the last few years.
Fact # 2: The proposed rule would not eliminate the parental exemption for owners/operators of a family farm.
The parental exemption for the owner or operator of a farm is statutory and cannot be eliminated through the regulatory process. A child of any age may perform any job, even hazardous work, at any age at any time on a farm owned by his or her parent. A child of any age whose parent operates a farm may also perform any task, even hazardous jobs, on that farm but only outside of school hours. So for children working on farms that are registered as LLCs, but operated solely by their parents, the parental exemption would still apply.
Fact # 3: This proposed regulation will not eliminate 4-H and FFA programs.
The Department of Labor fully supports the important contributions both 4-H and the FFA make toward developing our children. The proposed rule would in no way prohibit a child from raising or caring for an animal in a non-employment situation — even if the animal were housed on a working farm — as long as he or she is not hired or “employed” to work with the animal. In such a situation, the child is not acting as an “employee” and is not governed by the child labor regulations. And there is nothing in the proposed rule that would prevent a child from being employed to work with animals other than in those specific situations identified in the proposal as particularly hazardous.
Fact # 4: Under the proposed rule, children will still be able to help neighbors in need of help.
In order for the child labor provisions of the FLSA to apply, there must first be an employer/employee relationship. The lone act of helping a neighbor round up loose cattle who have broken out of their fencing, for example, generally would not establish an employer/employee relationship.
Fact # 5: Children will still be able to take animals to the county fair or to market.
A child who raises and cares for his or her animal — for example, as part of a 4-H project — is not being employed by anyone, and thus is outside the coverage of the FLSA. Even if the child needs to rent space from a farm, the animal is not part of the farm’s business and with regard to the care of the animal no employer/employee relationship exists, so the child labor provisions would not apply. Likewise, there would be no problem with taking the animal to the county fair or to market, since the child is doing this on his/her own behalf – not on behalf of an employer. The proposed prohibitions would apply only if the child was an employee of the exchange or auction.