Barclay: U.S. Labor Department Still Does’t Go Far Enough To Ensure Future Generations of Family Farms

Assemblyman Will Barclay expressed disappointment that the U.S. Department of Labor’s decision to re-propose its parental exemption language does not guarantee changes allowing children to work on family farms other than their parents’.

Last year saw a drastic change to agricultural youth-labor exemptions, making present and future operation and maintenance of family farms nearly impossible.

It was only after receiving thousands of complaints from concerned farming families that these changes were scaled back.

“While I’m pleased the Department of Labor has reconsidered its ill-advised changes to the parental exemption on farm labor, I am disappointed that they are not going far enough to ensure the vitality of our farming families going forward,” said Barclay. “By limiting children to working solely on their parents’ farms and not on those of other kin, we are inhibiting the abilities of small farms and family-owned businesses to thrive.”

“The future of agriculture depends upon children being included in and learning the nuances and amount of work that goes into the successful operation of a farm. I strongly urge the Department of Labor to fully reconsider this unfair regulation on our farming communities,” he continued.

The parental exemption was created by Congress in 1966 and allowed children under the age of 16 to perform any job on a farm owned or operated by a parent or guardian.

The Department of Labor’s current regulations would potentially ban children from working on farms whose ownership is more complicated, an increasing trend in the farming industry, as well as impose limitations on operating machinery and working around livestock.