Child labor bill could help kids on the farm

Apr 9, 2013

A proposed bill would change the child labor law requirements for Missouri children under the age of 16 who work on a family farm.

Credit File / KBIA

Missouri State Senate Bill 16, proposed by State Senator Brian Munzlinger, would exclude these children from certain child labor law restrictions with parental consent.  The bill would allow children to work on the family farm without getting a work certificate or counting hours worked.  Children would also be allowed to do certain jobs like operating and maintaining power-driven machinery and vehicles, climbing ladders, and working with certain hazardous chemicals.

The United States Department of Labor tried to enact a rule that would exclude children under the age of 16 from doing many common farm jobs.  Under the proposed rules change, they would not be allowed to work with farm animals, handle pesticides, operate farm implements like tractors, or do several other farm related activities.  The Department dropped the rules changes, saying in a press release, “The decision to withdraw this rule -including provisions to define the ‘parental exemption’- was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family owned farms.”

Some, like Scott Stone, Agricultural Science teacher at Centralia Public Schools, say the importance goes beyond simply farm help. They say that working on farms gives children the opportunity to learn valuable skills that you cannot get anywhere else. Stone says, “You can learn responsibility and work ethic from other things but I don’t always agree that you learn them quite as well as you do on that family farm or taking part in that family operation.”

The bill has passed the Senate and currently sits in the House Rules Committee.  If it is passed, the bill will take effect on August 28th.