Wisconsin Farm Bureau opposing new regulations for children working on farmsWisconsin News
-- A Wisconsin dairy leader says proposed federal farm safety regulations for children could reduce their interest in farming careers. But a Wisconsin farm safety expert says kids in other jobs are protected more than those on the farm -- and that needs to change.
A Wisconsin dairy leader says proposed federal farm safety regulations for children could reduce their interest in farming careers. But a Wisconsin farm safety expert says kids in other jobs are protected more than those on the farm -- and that needs to change.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says Washington has received thousands of comments on what the Labor Department calls the first major child farm labor regulations in 40 years. Among other things, those under 16 could not drive power machines unless a parent or guardian is supervising. They would not be able to work in grain silos or various storage bins -- they could not handle pesticides -- and they could not handle certain types of animals. The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation says those under 18 could not do many chores for a neighbor or even their own family farms if they're set up as a corporations or business partnerships.
Children who work on their parents' farms would remain exempt from child labor laws -- and the Labor Department said they could keep performing any tasks there. But Barb Lee of the Marshfield Clinic's National Farm Medicine Center says ending the family farm exemption would help prevent the most serious youth injuries. She says tractor mishaps are the leading cause of child deaths on the farm. The Labor Department says the death rate for young farm workers is four times higher than in other workplaces. State officials said at least 40 kids were killed on farms from 2000-to-2010.
But Shelly Mayer, head of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, says kids who don't work on farms also face major risks from things like drugs and time that's not supervised. And she fears the rules would steer young people away from some great agricultural career opportunities. The Labor Department will keep taking public comments until December first, and then start the rule-making process.