Labor Department Re-Proposal of 'Parental Exemption' a Step in the Right DirectionWed, 01 Feb 2012 17:50:18 CST
The Department of Labor announced on Wednesday afternoon that it would re-propose a portion of a regulation regarding farm labor which would have imposed serious restrictions children whose families work in agriculture.
In a news release explaining its decision, the department said its Wage and Hour Division would re-interpret the portion of the regulation defining “parental exemption.”
The statement said its decision to re-propose the regulation was due to a flood of comments it received from the public.
Many agricultural-related organizations spearheaded efforts to get their constituents involved in commenting on the proposed rule changes.
Kristina Butts with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association told Radio Oklahoma Network’s Ron Hays that the proposed rule would have had serious repercussions for rural families.
She said the rule would have made it impossible for her as a girl to do something as simple as care for her 4-H show steer because it lived on her grandparents’ property down the road.
“I would not be able to feed my show steer or work with my show steer because my parents did not own the property.”
Instances like this fueled an overwhelming response to the Labor Department from across the country, Butts said.
“We had a large outcry from cattle farmers and ranchers from across the country, as well as a lot of people involved in agriculture, talking about their concerns about parental exemption.”
Butts said the comments weren’t only directed to the Department of Labor but to Congress. She said organizations such as the NCBA were catalysts in directing comments to where they would do the most good. Members of Congress were also instrumental in getting the attention of the Department of Labor.
“We’ve also had a lot of members of congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, that are involved in rural America and involved in agricultural programs and they were extremely concerned with this overreach as well. And so they weighed in at the highest level,” Butts said.
She said the Department of Labor has indicated it would like to have its re-proposal of the regulation concerning child labor in agriculture ready by late summer. She said the measure would likely be accompanied by a new comment period and that the NCBA would again be engaged in following the proposal.
You can read the full text of the release by the Department of Labor by clicking here.
To read about Senate Agriculture Commitee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow's response, click here.
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