Youth Labor Policies in U.S. Agriculture
We believe that youth should only work in safe situations and tasks, unexposed to hazards or situations that would subject them to undue risk of injury or long-term health risks. We believe that teenagers can work in agriculture or other businesses, in a way that provides safe conditions and appropriate hours. We understand that teenagers differ from adults in many respects, and that businesses that employ teenagers must supervise them differently from adults. To that end, we support the work of the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, and the work of the National Farm Medicine Center.
Some agricultural operations are hazardous and special protections must be mandated and implemented to protect youth and untrained workers from specific jobs, locations, and practices. This does not mean wholesale bans on participation of youth, less trained, or less able workers from agricultural work. With proper training, adequate supervision, and consistent enforcement of work rules, farm work can provide safe and valuable introductory work experiences and important income opportunities for youth.
Every farm should have a written policy to keep unauthorized persons of all ages out of the workplace. Additional legislation or regulatory authority is not needed. The abuses held up as examples are illegal and improper under current law and should be fully prosecuted. Congress must adequately fund the Department of Labor to assure that current laws and regulations are obeyed in order to prevent, or stop, employment abuses in all industries.
NCAE and our industry support legal and responsible employment of youth. We believe all children should attend school. If teenagers work, their work should not interfere with their education or their safety. NCAE strongly supports agricultural occupational work experience opportunities for youth through approved education and training programs such as Vocational Agriculture, Occupational Work Experience, and others.
See the additional Resources
NCAE Issue Paper (2010)
NCAE Model Policy “Children in Workplace” (2010)
National Children’s Center Guidelines for Youth Employment
National Children’s Center Resource Page
US Department of Labor Pocket Guide
CropLife America Issue Summary and Talking Points (2011)