Begun on September 2, 2011, the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor proposed a revision to child labor regulations specifically within the agricultural sector. Current regulations addressing children working in hazardous agricultural occupations have not been updated since the initial mandate in 1970. The update is intended to address recommendations developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to conform the outdated regulations to those of current nonagricultural child labor rules.
The updated amendments include strengthening prohibitions regarding the employment of children with animals in timber operations, manure pits, storage bins and the handling of pesticides; additional prohibitions including banning children under 16 years of age from working in the cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco, and from using communications devices while operating heavy equipment; disallowing the employment of children under 18 from jobs in storing and transporting raw materials from farms such as found in stockyards, livestock auctions, and feed lots; banning children under 16 from operating motor vehicles, conveyors, feed grinders, augers, and other power-driven farm equipment, except in cases of student learners training in the operation of tractors and other implements.
The regulations would apply only to hired farm workers. Parental exemption through statutory child labor will remain in force, meaning the updated regulations would not be enforceable in regards to children working on farms operated by their parents.