April 29, 2012
NYC Letter: Unforced Error -- Farm Child Labor
Day 1,191 of CHOPE
Incredible Election Year
"Did We Really Propose That" Edition
In sports an unforced error is bad play not attributable to the opponent but to the poor judgment and execution of the player making the play. In politics it is bad policy that improves nothing, unsettles everything, does not significantly advance any larger goal, and, worst of all, impairs electability. That is to say, it is dumb.
Because Team Barry is so much smarter than its opposition, it feels obliged to make frequent unforced errors just to keep the opposition in the game. That's very sporting of them.
Today's story begins back in August of last year.
US LABOR DEPARTMENT PROPOSES UPDATES
TO CHILD LABOR REGULATIONS
Aims To Improve Safety Of Young Workers
Employed In Agriculture And Related Fields
WASHINGTON August 31, 2011 (DOL) - The U.S. Department of Labor is proposing revisions to child labor regulations that will strengthen the safety requirements for young workers employed in agriculture and related fields. The agricultural hazardous occupations orders under the Fair Labor Standards Act that bar young workers from certain tasks have not been updated since they were promulgated in 1970.
April 25, 2012 (TDC) - The Department of Labor is poised to put the finishing touches on a rule that would apply child-labor laws to children working on family farms, prohibiting them from performing a list of jobs on their own families' land. Under the rules, children under 18 could no longer work "in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials."
"Prohibited places of employment," a Department press release read, "would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions."
The new regulations, first proposed August 31 by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, would also revoke the government's approval of safety training and certification taught by independent groups like 4-H and FFA, replacing them instead with a 90-hour federal government training course.
The 4-H Club dates back to community youth programs from the early 1900s. In 1914 these were formalized and folded into the USDA under federal charter as a national organization. Now an international organization 4-H has 6.5 million members in the United States, ages five to nineteen, in some 90,000 clubs with 540,000 volunteers, 3,500 professionals, and more than 60 million alumni. The FFA (National FFA Organization, formerly Future Farmers Of America) was founded in 1928 and currently has over 540,379 members, ages twelve to twenty-one, in 7,489 chapters throughout the 50 states and territories. It was granted a federal charter August 12, 1998. Both organizations provide years-long vocational training and experience. Let's just scrap these in-place proven organizations' programs -- already under charter by the government -- and create a new 90-hour government certifying program from scratch. A Team Barry two-fer!: replacing what works with what won't and redundant spending!
In February the Labor Department seemingly backed away from what many had called an unrealistic reach into farmers' families, reopening the public comment period on a section of the regulations designed to give parents an exemption for their own children. Kristi Boswell, a labor specialist with the American Farm Bureau Federation:It's a misconception that they have backed off on the parental exemption.
That narrow "parental exception" has quickly become a political football in U.S. agriculture. The Farm Bureau and one other national agricultural group told TheDC that it would only apply to parents who "wholly own" their own farms.
That would rule out kids working on an uncle’s farm, or a grandfather’s, and it would ban teens from working on farms where ownership is split — even among several generations of the same family. It would also mean teens couldn't be around when their friends are doing farm work.
Estimates vary on the number of children who live on farms their parents "wholly own." One state-level Farm Bureau cited an internal estimate of less than 30 percent. That number, the organization said, takes into account the fact that many farms in animal agriculture are part-owned by the large food companies that ultimately purchase the mat after slaughter.
More than 10,000 letters and emails poured in when the regulation was opened up for public comment in late 2011. Boswell’s objection stems from Labor Secretary Solis’ decision to give the public a second chance to weigh in after the first round of public opinion was decidedly in favor of letting kids participate fully in agriculture.
It's like election recounts. You keep going back till you get the results you want.
And jobs that could "inflict pain on an animal" would also be off-limits for kids. But "inflicting pain," [Cherokee County Farm Bureau president Jeff] Clark explained, is left undefined: If it included something like putting a halter on a steer, 4-H and FFA animal shows would be a thing of the past.
In a letter to The Department of Labor in December, Montana Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg complained that the animal provision would also mean young people couldn't "see veterinary medicine in practice … including a veterinarian’s own children accompanying him or her to a farm or ranch."
... During a March 14 hearing, Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) blasted Hilda Solis for getting between rural parents and their children:The consequences of the things that you put in your regulations lack common sense. And in my view, if the federal government can regulate the kind of relationship between parents and their children on their own family’s farm, there is almost nothing off-limits in which we see the federal government intruding in a way of life.
The Department of Labor did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
No surprise there.
WASHINGTON April 27, 2012 (Reuters) - An Obama administration proposal to restrict child labor on farms has been withdrawn after criticism from agricultural groups.
The rules, which were supported by child labor advocates, would have banned children younger than 16 from using most power-driven farm equipment, including tractors, if they had not taken a training course. The proposal also would have prevented those younger than 18 from working in feed lots, grain bins and stockyards.
The Labor Department said it had received thousands of comments about the rule and its effect on small family-owned farms. Statement posted Thursday on its website:As a result, the Department of Labor is announcing today the withdrawal of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 who work in agricultural vocations.
Hey! That's the same as the first round of comments!
The departments of Labor and Agriculture will work with such organizations as the American Farm Bureau Federation and the 4-H farm youth group to develop programs to reduce accidents for young workers, it said.
Hey! That's the same as before the proposed rule change!
Way to go, DOL. That's showing the bitter clingers.
Even dumb has its limits.
* Hilda Solis holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a Master of Public Administration.
** TDC updated their original story and made a hash of the rewrite. The identities of key people quoted were omitted. We have knitted the update at the headline link with the original story sourced here.Posted by Damian at April 29, 2012 01:15 PM