The Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed significant changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that will severely impact the type of work young people are allowed to do on farms and ranches. While the FLSA already prevents young workers from doing some tasks, there has previously been sufficient flexibility within those rules to allow young people to work in agriculture. However, the DOL proposal would prohibit children under the age of sixteen from assisting in a range of common agricultural practices, including the vaccination of livestock or the use of any power driven machines to do agriculture work, including tractors, pressure hoses, and battery operated tools. In addition, no one under the age of eighteen would be allowed to work in stockyards, grain elevators, feedlots, livestock exchanges, and auctions. Finally, there are also concerns that the proposal could severely limit young people from working on family farms. Opponents of this proposed regulation argue that it would be overly burdensome to agriculture producers, threaten our nation's agricultural heritage, and punish an industry that has made significant gains in the safety of its younger workers over the last several decades. Supporters, however, argue that the safety of all workers is of utmost importance, and that this rule would increase the safety of young farm workers.
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