Noem concerned at child labor proposalWASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Kristi Noem said proposed changes to regulations involving children who work on family farms have her concerned about a negative impact on South Dakota agriculture.
By: News release, Office of Rep. Kristi Noem
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Kristi Noem said proposed changes to regulations involving children who work on family farms have her concerned about a negative impact on South Dakota agriculture.
Noem, in a letter to the Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, said she is concerned with the changes to the definition of a family farm within this new regulation and further restrictions for hiring youth. The proposed rule could seriously undermine traditional family agriculture if the exemption for family farms does not include those partly owned by close relatives, she said. “Many South Dakotans rely on family labor for support, including the Hutterite communities in the state,” Noem wrote in the letter. “The wording of this proposal needs to be significantly changed in order to clearly exempt family farms operated by aunts, uncles, grandparents and other close relatives regardless of the legal structure of the farming operation.”
She wrote that is concerned the proposal would prohibit workers under 16 from operating “power-driven” equipment.
“This includes not only farming machinery, but is so broadly written that it prohibits equipment operated by animals, batteries or wind,” Noem wrote. “It also restricts hiring youth to vaccinate, brand, or treat animals, which is common for our ranchers.
“As the global demand for food rises, we need to ensure that we continue to train the next generation of American farmers and ranchers. It is imperative that we encourage, not discourage, youth from choosing a career in agriculture.”
The public comment period on the proposed rule closed on Dec. 1. The Department of Labor is reviewing the comments but the timeline for a final rule is unclear.