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Proposed Child Labor Rule to Be Revised

February 1, 2012
By: Jen Russell, AgWeb.com Managing Editor google + 

The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that it will revise part of its controversial farm labor rule that aims to increase protections for youth workers.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division said it will be revising and re-proposing the portion of the rule that interprets "parental exemption." Originally, the rule allowed children of any age employed by a parent or legal guardian to perform any farm duty provided the farm was owned by the parent or guardian. Otherwise, children under the age of 18 would be prohibited from performing certain farm duties that are deemed hazardous, such as handling pesticides or working in storage bins.

However, the department agreed to revise the parental exemption portion after hearing months of opposition from farmers and members of Congress, including Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

The revised parental exemption portion is expected to be completed and published for public comment by early summer. Meanwhile, the department will continue to seek public comments on the proposed labor rule.

Until rule is final, the Wage and Hour Division said it will apply the parental exemption to situations in which the parent or legal guardian is a part-owner of the farm, or part of a partnership or corporation that owns the farm, provided the ownership interest is substantial.
 

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COMMENTS (2 Comments)

dennisolmstead - Honolulu, HI
I'm not sure why people are happy that the Department of Labor (DOL) is going to re-look at their proposed child labor laws for ranch and farm operations. Laws that I believe would change the lives of ranchers and farmers forever...and not in a good way! The DOL said that because of critical public opinion they will come back with a new, supposedly, fairer version. PEOPLE....this whole proposition is a trap!!!

Look...the educated people at the DOL, trust me they aren't dumb, don't really think that a 16 year old who lives 10 miles out-of-town anywhere USA who is standing on pile of bales that's higher than six feet can really be policed! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture there are 1.9 billion arces of farm and ranch land in the lower 48 states. With a federal budget already under considerable pressure any program like this is going to have to be self-financed. More on this later but first let me introduce you to my friend Joe and his son.

Joe is a rancher. To be a rancher Joe needs to have a fair amount of land to make a living. Lets just say Joe has a section of land (640 acres) not big...not small. A section is one mile by one mile and somewhere on Joe's land there is this aforementioned stack of bales. Haystacks are generally located where they are most useful and for Joe that's near where Joe keeps his critters who like to eat hay. One such location is in Joe's field...not next to the road.

So for starters...Who's going to be watching this person on the haystack on Joe's ranch? Is the enforcing officer going to enter Joe's ranch and travel a half mile on to Joe's property to the haystack? Maybe it's winter and maybe the enforcing officer's vehicle might not get through the snow? Does he try or not? Is it a good day to enforce the law or not? What if the enforcing officer thinking that he can get through the snow, don't forget mud, but eventually gets stuck? I thinking that Joe will be thinking that mother #$%^...who is on my land...who wants to fine me...who wants to interrupt my working day and who is now stuck in the snow on my land...is going to want my help...fat chance! Would getting unstuck otherwise be costly and time consuming? Would it be a huge waste of time, not to mention taxpayer money, if the enforcing officer makes it to the haystack and finds that it isn't over six feet high? Keep in mind that the officer was a half a mile away when he made the decision to enter the property. Is the enforcing officer going to have the necessary surveillance equipment to properly identify someone from a half mile away before he enters the property? Can you tell how old somebody is from a half a mile away who has a hat and coat on? Have you ever noticed how ranchers kind of dress the same...farmers too! What if there are trees and hills between the road and the haystack. Can the officer creep on to the property to spy over hills or around the trees? Does the DOL really know how ranchers and farmers feel about uninvited guess on their property...this is were it could get real ugly! What if the young man on the haystack turns out to be Joe's son? Oh ya...I forget to tell you that this is soooooo dangerous that Joe's son can stand on any stack of bales that he wants to because it's on his own property. The proposed laws says that if the haystack is higher than six feet and you are on somebody elses ranch, in other words you have a job, and you haven't taken the safety class you are now in voliation of federal law. And so it goes! Did I mention that there are 1.9 billion arces to keep track of?

Now I ask you...are the folks at the DOL really that stupid? Of course not! What they are doing is using the same strategy General Schwarzkopf used in the first gulf war. The General made a bunch of fuss out in the ocean to make it look like that was where the attack was going to come from. He invaded Iraq in a completely different spot. DOL has intentionally created the fuss over these nonsense laws just to be able to get into the life of ranchers and farmers. The endgame here is about getting a foot in the door of the ranchers and farmers business...and that's it. And if they can get a bunch of laws at the same time all the better. They have created this smoke screen of nonsense laws to divert attention from what they really want. Once they get in they can do whatever they want to after that. And why do they want in? It's always the same.....MONEY!

Remember how many arces there are to patrol (1.9 billion) and remember this will have to be a self-financed enforcement agency. Maybe the DOL will create a brand new enforcement agency like the TSA....probably not. Maybe the DOL will make the states responsible for funding this new enforcing agency...can you say higher state taxes. Or maybe they think the local police will pick up this little item of enforcement. Or maybe they will make it a part of OSHA's responsibilities. OSHA is self-financed organization and runs totally on the fines they collect. Hmmmmm...I'm wondering if ranchers and farmers have checked out the fine amounts that OSHA levies...it's in thousands of $$$$$$$. Ever try to fund a federal agency? You'll need more than a speed ticket. Remember the first two words in OSHA stand for OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY!!! Or maybe OSHA is just not doing so well these days and maybe it needs to expand it's revenue capabilities.

The reality is that nobody can police 1.9 billion arces and so what will happen is that the enforcing officer will only show up after the fact to investigate. Injuries aside, who currently has the most to lose when somebody gets hurt? The answer....insurance companies! Oh oh...ya them. Upon further investigation we have found that said injured rancher youth had not taken the appropriate safety classes prescribed by law therefore your insurance coverage is now null and void...so sorry! Not to mention when was the last time you saw insurance premiums go down?

Now the DOL's solution to this so-called problem is to have the kids take about 100 hours of safety classes. I would sure like to know how many ranchers and farmers asked the DOL to write these new laws to help them save their youths. I think I have a pretty good idea...about zero but I digress. How much are these classes going to cost and when will the classes be run. Remember there are 1.9 billion arces of farm/ranch land and I suppose the DOL is thinking that the classes would be taught by teachers in the closest school throughout the country....ya right. I wonder if the DOL has talked with teacher's union about how they feel about this added work load. I guess the teachers don't have enough on their plates these days. And I won't get into the whole thing about how stupid it will be having a teacher, with no ranching or farming experience, teach the kids who come from generations of ranchers and farmers.

Here's a recent comment...U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, “I want to applaud Secretary (Hilda) Solis and the Department of Labor for their decision to re-propose this portion of the rule to ensure kids across the nation have the opportunity to learn the value and reward of good old-fashioned farm work, while still providing protection to children from the most dangerous aspects of farming.” Boy oh boy does that comment smell of cahoots...what happens in Washington stays in Washington. I wonder where the lobbyist for the insurance companies set up camp?

The DOL is now talking like they're already in the door by saying okay we will re-write these laws and everything will be okay...right. Wrong...not one law is the only acceptable solution! We need to push them back as there is nothing reasonable about any of this. Today's economy can not absorb the billions of dollars it would take to effectively put a set of laws like this in place.

To the DOL...let these rugged independent americans alone! They didn't ask for these laws and this ain't McDonalds...this is a way of life. And I for one want to see this tradition that started with the founding fathers of this country preserved. NO LAWS NO WAY...END OF STORY...Get out of the house with those muddy boots!
5:03 PM Feb 6th
 
dennisolmstead - Honolulu, HI
I'm not sure why people are happy that the Department of Labor (DOL) is going to re-look at their proposed child labor laws for ranch and farm operations. Laws that I believe would change the lives of ranchers and farmers forever...and not in a good way! The DOL said that because of critical public opinion they will come back with a new, supposedly, fairer version. PEOPLE....this whole proposition is a trap!!!

Look...the educated people at the DOL, trust me they aren't dumb, don't really think that a 16 year old who lives 10 miles out-of-town anywhere USA who is standing on pile of bales that's higher than six feet can really be policed! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture there are 1.9 billion arces of farm and ranch land in the lower 48 states. With a federal budget already under considerable pressure any program like this is going to have to be self-financed. More on this later but first let me introduce you to my friend Joe and his son.

Joe is a rancher. To be a rancher Joe needs to have a fair amount of land to make a living. Lets just say Joe has a section of land (640 acres) not big...not small. A section is one mile by one mile and somewhere on Joe's land there is this aforementioned stack of bales. Haystacks are generally located where they are most useful and for Joe that's near where Joe keeps his critters who like to eat hay. One such location is in Joe's field...not next to the road.

So for starters...Who's going to be watching this person on the haystack on Joe's ranch? Is the enforcing officer going to enter Joe's ranch and travel a half mile on to Joe's property to the haystack? Maybe it's winter and maybe the enforcing officer's vehicle might not get through the snow? Does he try or not? Is it a good day to enforce the law or not? What if the enforcing officer thinking that he can get through the snow, don't forget mud, but eventually gets stuck? I thinking that Joe will be thinking that mother #$%^...who is on my land...who wants to fine me...who wants to interrupt my working day and who is now stuck in the snow on my land...is going to want my help...fat chance! Would getting unstuck otherwise be costly and time consuming? Would it be a huge waste of time, not to mention taxpayer money, if the enforcing officer makes it to the haystack and finds that it isn't over six feet high? Keep in mind that the officer was a half a mile away when he made the decision to enter the property. Is the enforcing officer going to have the necessary surveillance equipment to properly identify someone from a half mile away before he enters the property? Can you tell how old somebody is from a half a mile away who has a hat and coat on? Have you ever noticed how ranchers kind of dress the same...farmers too! What if there are trees and hills between the road and the haystack. Can the officer creep on to the property to spy over hills or around the trees? Does the DOL really know how ranchers and farmers feel about uninvited guess on their property...this is were it could get real ugly! What if the young man on the haystack turns out to be Joe's son? Oh ya...I forget to tell you that this is soooooo dangerous that Joe's son can stand on any stack of bales that he wants to because it's on his own property. The proposed laws says that if the haystack is higher than six feet and you are on somebody elses ranch, in other words you have a job, and you haven't taken the safety class you are now in voliation of federal law. And so it goes! Did I mention that there are 1.9 billion arces to keep track of?

Now I ask you...are the folks at the DOL really that stupid? Of course not! What they are doing is using the same strategy General Schwarzkopf used in the first gulf war. The General made a bunch of fuss out in the ocean to make it look like that was where the attack was going to come from. He invaded Iraq in a completely different spot. DOL has intentionally created the fuss over these nonsense laws just to be able to get into the life of ranchers and farmers. The endgame here is about getting a foot in the door of the ranchers and farmers business...and that's it. And if they can get a bunch of laws at the same time all the better. They have created this smoke screen of nonsense laws to divert attention from what they really want. Once they get in they can do whatever they want to after that. And why do they want in? It's always the same.....MONEY!

Remember how many arces there are to patrol (1.9 billion) and remember this will have to be a self-financed enforcement agency. Maybe the DOL will create a brand new enforcement agency like the TSA....probably not. Maybe the DOL will make the states responsible for funding this new enforcing agency...can you say higher state taxes. Or maybe they think the local police will pick up this little item of enforcement. Or maybe they will make it a part of OSHA's responsibilities. OSHA is self-financed organization and runs totally on the fines they collect. Hmmmmm...I'm wondering if ranchers and farmers have checked out the fine amounts that OSHA levies...it's in thousands of $$$$$$$. Ever try to fund a federal agency? You'll need more than a speed ticket. Remember the first two words in OSHA stand for OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY!!! Or maybe OSHA is just not doing so well these days and maybe it needs to expand it's revenue capabilities.

The reality is that nobody can police 1.9 billion arces and so what will happen is that the enforcing officer will only show up after the fact to investigate. Injuries aside, who currently has the most to lose when somebody gets hurt? The answer....insurance companies! Oh oh...ya them. Upon further investigation we have found that said injured rancher youth had not taken the appropriate safety classes prescribed by law therefore your insurance coverage is now null and void...so sorry! Not to mention when was the last time you saw insurance premiums go down?

Now the DOL's solution to this so-called problem is to have the kids take about 100 hours of safety classes. I would sure like to know how many ranchers and farmers asked the DOL to write these new laws to help them save their youths. I think I have a pretty good idea...about zero but I digress. How much are these classes going to cost and when will the classes be run. Remember there are 1.9 billion arces of farm/ranch land and I suppose the DOL is thinking that the classes would be taught by teachers in the closest school throughout the country....ya right. I wonder if the DOL has talked with teacher's union about how they feel about this added work load. I guess the teachers don't have enough on their plates these days. And I won't get into the whole thing about how stupid it will be having a teacher, with no ranching or farming experience, teach the kids who come from generations of ranchers and farmers.

Here's a recent comment...U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, “I want to applaud Secretary (Hilda) Solis and the Department of Labor for their decision to re-propose this portion of the rule to ensure kids across the nation have the opportunity to learn the value and reward of good old-fashioned farm work, while still providing protection to children from the most dangerous aspects of farming.” Boy oh boy does that comment smell of cahoots...what happens in Washington stays in Washington. I wonder where the lobbyist for the insurance companies set up camp?

The DOL is now talking like they're already in the door by saying okay we will re-write these laws and everything will be okay...right. Wrong...not one law is the only acceptable solution! We need to push them back as there is nothing reasonable about any of this. Today's economy can not absorb the billions of dollars it would take to effectively put a set of laws like this in place.

To the DOL...let these rugged independent americans alone! They didn't ask for these laws and this ain't McDonalds...this is a way of life. And I for one want to see this tradition that started with the founding fathers of this country preserved. NO LAWS NO WAY...END OF STORY...Get out of the house with those muddy boots!
5:03 PM Feb 6th
 



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