Many farmers and some members of Congress say the regulations should be scaled back or eliminated, arguing they are vague and could restrict such activities as washing trucks, if interpreted to be hazardous. The debate has entered the presidential race.
Mann reports the biggest concern is "these rules could affect family farms, restricting the ability of a young person to work for their parents or relatives without government meddling. The New York Farm Bureau’s website accuses federal officials of trying to 'tell us how to raise our kids.'"
At issue is the definition of farm ownership. The Labor Department has backed off its original proposal, which would have exempted children only when working on farms wholly owned by their parents, but "Farm worker advocates like Virginia Ruiz, with a group called Farmworker Justice, say the agriculture industry has used the family-farm issue to try to block common-sense protections for kids, protections that other industries have had in place for decades."
It's more complicated than that, Kelly Young of the state Farm Bureau said: "We're getting to really specific [questions of] who is that business and who is the owner of that farm and it's not a person anymore. Times have changed and farms are organized in LLCs and S-corps and C-corps," types of businesses defined by federal tax law. "That's not covered by the exemption."
Mann notes, "researchers say roughly two dozen teenagers die while working on farms every year. Of those, roughly 40 percent are paid employees who would be covered by these regulations as currently written. The other 60 percent are family-members who will likely be exempt." (Read more)