Obama Flips On Farm Chore Rules

04.27.12 | Bob Price

Critics complained that the regulation would have drastically changed the extent to which children could work on farms owned by family members. The U.S. Department of Labor cited public outcry as the reason for withdrawing the rule.

“The decision to withdraw this rule — including provisions to define the ‘parental exemption’ — was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms,” the Department said in a press release Thursday evening. “To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.”

The rule would have dramatically changed what types of chores children under the age of 16 could perform on and around American farms. It would have prohibited them from working with tobacco, operating almost all types of power-driven equipment and being employed to work with raw farm materials.

“Prohibited places of employment would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions,” read a press release from last August.

“I am pleased to hear the Obama Administration is finally backing away from its absurd 85-page proposal to block youth from participating in family farm activities and ultimately undermine the very fabric of rural America, but I will continue working to ensure this overreaching proposal is completely and permanently put to rest,” said Sen. John Thune, Republican from South Dakota. “The Obama DOL’s youth farm labor rule is a perfect example of what happens when government gets too big.”

Parents and children who grew up on farms across the country said that the rule was overprotective and would have prevented kids from learning valuable skills at early ages.