The Board of County Commissioners has gone on record with farm groups across the nation stating opposition to federal rules aimed at restricting youth employment on farms.
The Obama Administration's Department of Labor issued the new regulations last month.
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) has taken the lead among some 70 farm groups in opposing the regulations and working to stop their implementation. The Delta BoCC agrees and has sent letters to Colorado's Congressional delegation stating so.
According to the AFBF, "The proposed regulation seems to go well beyond Department of Labor's authority. The Department has the authority to prohibit youth employment in jobs that are 'particularly hazardous.' But, the department's proposal would prohibit youth from working in any job with 'power-driven equipment.' Read literally, the department's proposal would prohibit a youth under 16 from working in any job that had even simple power tools like a battery-operated screw driver."
The new rules would apply to youth under age 16 and would prevent them in many instances from performing other common work like driving tractors. Other ag groups have said the regs would prevent youth from routine but important chores such as detasseling corn.
The regulations would impact family farms. The AFBF said the new rules, "would limit youth employment opportunities on farms and ranches" of which 98 percent are family-based operations in America.
The BoCC sees the proposed regulations as a threat to this area's popular, successful, and productive youth programs – 4-H, FAA, and Youth on Farms.
"We recognize that the proposed regulation is designed to affect only hired farm workers and seeks to maintain the statutory child labor parental exemption involving children working on farms owned or operated by their parents," the Delta County Commissioners' letter states. "However, some of the proposed regulation confuses or restricts this key statutory exemption ... To ban persons under the age of 16 from using the long list of items is essentially banning young persons from employment."
The AFBF urged the Department "to maintain the integrity of the family farm exemption approved by Congress."
Another concern with the proposed regulations cited by the AFBF coalition is "a potential prohibition on youth harvesting fruits and vegetables, which would prevent high school and college students from working what are considered traditional summer jobs in rural areas. Such regulation would create an even tighter supply of agriculture labor at a time when it is much needed," the coalition said.
The BoCC letter added, "This Board asks you to oppose any Department of Labor Rule changes that would limit the opportunities of our youth to learn from farm work experience and eliminate their opportunity to raise livestock through our long established agricultural education programs."
The BoCC's letter was drafted by Commissioner Olen Lund and signed by all three commissioners on Jan. 9.blog comments powered by Disqus