The U.S. Department of Labor on Wednesday announced that it will "re-propose" the portion of its regulation on child labor in agriculture concerning the "parental exemption" after an outcry from the public over the potential impacts to traditions within the agricultural community.
The "parental exemption" allows children of any age to work on farms owned or operated by their parent though prohibits children under the age of 16 from working at agriculture jobs outside that scope.
The Labor Department will seek additional comments and input with re-proposed portion of the rule expected to be published for public comment by early summer.
"Today's announcement to re-propose the parental exemption means the department will have the benefit of additional public comment, and the public will have an opportunity to consider a revised approach to this issue," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "We will continue to work closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure that our child labor in agriculture rule generally, and the parental exemption specifically, fully reflect input from rural communities."
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack applauded the Labor Department's decision.
"I want to applaud Secretary 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."
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey were also pleased by the decision.
"I am pleased to learn that Secretary Solis and the Department of Labor are reconsidering their burdensome regulations on Iowa farm families," Branstad said today. "As I grew up on a family farm, I learned the value of a strong work ethic by working alongside my family. I firmly believe that Iowa farm families are better at ensuring the safety and well being of their children than bureaucrats in Washington."
"It is important we continue to provide opportunities for young people to learn about agriculture and gain experience by working on farms in a responsible manner," Northey said. "This announcement by the Department of Labor shows that they are responding to the comments they received and hearing the concerns of the farming community."
Branstad and Northey wrote Secretary Solis last year about their concerns with the rules.