The Obama administration’s move to scrap a plan that would prevent some children from working in dangerous farm jobs drew sharp rebukes Friday from child-welfare advocates who claim the president caved in to election-year pressure from farmers and Republicans.
The Labor Department spent more than a year working on the proposal to ban children younger than 16 from using power-driven farm equipment — including tractors — and prevent those under 18 from working in grain silos, feed lots and stockyards.
The goal was to protect children, who are four times more likely to be killed while performing farm work than those in all other industries combined.
But the proposal was routinely mocked in rural states such as Kansas and Montana, where farmers often have their kids do chores that can include operating heavy equipment.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said the government should not shirk its duty to keep working children safe.
“I am disappointed that the administration chose to walk away from regulations that were, at their core, about protecting children and which could have been revised to correct some of the initial proposals that generated the most concern,” Harkin said.
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