Kansas has a strong agricultural tradition. Kansas farmers lead the nation in wheat production. Almost 20 percent of all U.S. beef comes from Kansas. Our state ranks high in many other crop and livestock statistics as well. Agriculture and agribusiness are crucial to the Kansas economy. In fact, one in five Kansans work in agriculture-related jobs.
In rural areas, teenagers often work part-time performing agricultural work. I grew up in a small town, and from the time I was twelve years old until I left for college I spent large parts of my summers in the fields baling hay, detasseling corn, and walking beans for pay. Some farm operations and other agricultural businesses depend heavily on part-time youth workers.
Earlier this fall, the U.S. Department of Labor proposed, in its own words, a “dramatic updating” to its child labor regulations directed toward agriculture-related jobs. The proposed changes include:
· Preventing youth under 18 years of age from working in grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges, and livestock auctions, or otherwise being employed in the storing, marketing, and transporting of raw farm products.
· Prohibiting hired farm workers under age 16 from operating almost all power-driven equipment, except for some “student-learners” under specified conditions.
· Prohibiting youth from using electronic devices, including communication devices, while operating power-driven equipment. (In other words, don’t text your friends while operating farm machinery.)
The proposed regulations would not apply to children working on farms owned by their parents.
After a period for interested parties to submit written comments, DOL presumably will issue final rules. Agricultural employers will want to stay tuned. To read more click here