INFORUM.com | WDAZ.com

WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 27, 2012, 08:14 PM

Dept. of Labor Backs Down on Farming Age Restrictions

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Some local law makers are claiming victory after the Department of Labor backed down from a proposed law to keep minors from working on some farms.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Some local law makers are claiming victory after the Department of Labor backed down from a proposed law to keep minors from working on some farms.

The Department was trying to make it illegal for those under the age of 18 to work on most farms that were not run by their families.

That didn't go over to well with many in the ag industry.

As spring planting continues, farmers will have one less policy to worry about and that is new labor laws.

The Department of Labor spent more than a year working on the proposal to ban children younger than 16 from using power-driven farm equipment, including tractors, and preventing those under 18 from working in grain silos, feed lots and stockyards.

"I bailed hay, I drove tractors," farmer Mark Gullickson said.

Gullickson farms near Fertile, MN, and remembers learning the ropes at a garm at a young age. He says kids learn about farm safety from doing and new national labor laws would have taken some of that away.

"Enough is enough. We can take care of ourselves, we don't need government doing everything for us. We know what is best for us and let us do it," Gullickson said.

Representative Rick Berg helped sponsor a bill to block the new labor policies. He says the new rules were being made by people in Washington that don't understand how agriculture works.

"It takes a lot of people to run our farming operations. I think it's a huge opportunity for our youth in North Dakota to work on different farms and ranches. That's how I grew up and this is a huge victory for North Dakota today," Berg said.

As for Gullickson, he is happy with the Department of Labor's decision not to go ahead with the new policies. He says times have changed and even farm equipment is safer than it's ever been.

"Even your lawnmower at home, you get off the seat and it shuts off. Tractors, combines, things like that are all set up that way. So there is a lot of safety being built into everything these days, too," Gullickson said.

The Department of Labor's proposal was widely condemned by agriculture communities across the country.

Tags: