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Proposal would tighten rules on children working on farms

Proposed Child Labor Regulation updates may keep young farm hands from being allowed to work on some farms.

The Department of Labor is proposing an update to its current regulations based on recommendations from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The proposed rules will not affect children working on their parent’s farms because of parent exemption.

Volunteer activities that include helping a neighbor, 4-H or FFA programs will still be allowed as well. However, children working on others farms and student learners could be affected by the revisions.

According to Halifax County Farm Bureau President Scott Crowder, the current child labor hazardous occupation orders have not been updated since 1970.

Crowder said he understands children need to be protected and kept safe, but he also feels these regulations could affect a child’s ability to learn a work ethic.

“No one wants to see children get hurt, but at the same time we need to teach a work ethic to our children,” Crowder said.

Some of the updated rules include prohibiting children under the age of 16 from employment in the cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco.

Children under 16 will be prohibited from operating almost all power-driven equipment.

The updates also will prevent children under 18 years of age from being employed in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm-product raw products.

Some feel farmers are capable of determining safety measures for their youth employees.

“No farmer would dare put a child in harm’s way,” Crowder said.