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Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.


New child labor proposals will impact some family farms

By Lynda Waddington | 09.06.11 | 3:05 pm

In its first such move since 1970, the U.S. Department of Labor is taking aim at risky exposures for minors, and the proposed rules could spell changes for family farming operations.

The proposal (also embedded below), according to the DOL, would “strengthen the safety requirements for young workers employed in agriculture and related fields.” The revisions would impact the Fair Labor Standards Act that currently bars young workers from certain tasks, and are expected to bring restrictions on young agricultural workers more in line with those that already exist for young people who work outside of agriculture.

“Children employed in agriculture are some of the most vulnerable workers in America,” Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said in a prepared statement. “Ensuring their welfare is a priority of the department, and this proposal is another element of our comprehensive approach.”

The proposal would prohibit agricultural work with animals and in pesticide handling, timber operations, manure pits and storage bins. The dangers of working in and around grain storage bins have become more transparent during the past year as 51 men and boys have found themselves trapped and 26 of those have died in accidents that take only a few seconds to become deadly.

It would prohibit farm workers under age 16 from participating in the cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco. And it would prohibit youth in both agricultural and non-agricultural employment from using electronic, including communication, devices while operating power-driven equipment.

The department also is proposing to create a new non-agricultural hazardous occupations order that would prevent children under 18 from being employed in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials. Prohibited places of employment would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions.

Additionally, the proposal would prohibit farm workers under 16 from operating almost all power-driven equipment. A similar prohibition has existed as part of the non-agricultural child labor provisions for more than 50 years. A limited exemption would permit some student learners to operate certain farm implements and tractors, when equipped with proper rollover protection structures and seat belts, under specified conditions.

Although the rule is supposed to keep current exemptions for children working on a family-farm, Frank Gasperini, executive vice president of the National Council of Agricultural Employers said prior to viewing the full proposal that he is not completely convinced.

“We just had some legal research done for one of our members. That was to clarify whether or not it makes any difference if their family farm is an LLC versus a sole proprietorship,” Gasperini told Delta Farm Press. “According to most lawyers, it does make a difference. If your family farm is an LLC, the child doesn’t work for the parents solely. That’s a bit scary and into a gray area. Actually some of the lawyers said it isn’t gray at all — that it’s very clear the child is like any other that steps on the farm to work without exemptions.”

Gasperini said the issue of of concern because most family farms have now been set up a LLC.

In follow-up to the questions raised by Gasperini, federal officials said, “Where the ownership or operation of the farm is vested in persons other than the parent, such as a business entity, corporation or partnership (unless wholly owned by the parent(s)), the exemption would not apply.”

Justin Feldman, worker health and safety advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division, said the new proposals were “welcome, but overdue.”

“Agriculture is one of the most dangerous sectors for workers in the U.S., and it is especially hazardous for youths. Young people employed in agricultural work suffer fatalities at rates six times higher than their counterparts in other industries,” said Feldman.

The group described the 40-year-old rules that currently serve child labor law in the U.S. as “antiquated and grossly inadequate.”

Public comment is open on the proposal until Nov. 1, and a public hearing will be scheduled shortly after that time.

Federal Register, 9/2/2011, DOL Wage & Hour Division

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  • Freedumfrom

    Agenda 21 is the United Nations attempt at control of our private lands. Government can not enforce this piece or mostly any other piece of legislation of our farms. Thus the police state grows, the control grows. People who are independent of their system are a threat, people who grow their own food especially. This is an attempt to harm the small family farms who depend on their children to assist on the farm..

    Research agenda 21

  • snoocks2

    Aww shucks! I was driving the tractor and other ‘fun stuff’ when I was 12 at my grandpa’s farm. I brought in the cows on a horse with no saddle, brought in eggs and graded them for my aunt when I was but a tadpole of 6-7. Farmers farm, their families farm, and guess what? They learn to work – some alien to people today. I doubt the folks who wrote this piece of horse s***t never spent time on a farm.

    Farmers know danged well that you don’t send kids to the grain shed, you don’t let them run a combine until they are at least 14, and yes, hay bailing is for the hardy and strong. I couldn’t claim that status until I was about 14-going on 15.

    But shovel s+++t, sling feed to the pigs, swamp out the barn? They were all acceptable to growing kids – it made them know what work really was all about. And guess what? We loved every minute of it!

  • IowaCentric

    Farm work is incredibly hazardous. Allowing children to engage in farm work endangers them. Yes, it is a part of our culture and history…but so are a lot of activities that have been ruled as too dangerous for kids, like drinking, driving, smoking, going to war…

    Limiting the type of work a child can do does pose a hardship for family farmers, one which will hopefully be accounted for. But the alternative is to turn a blind eye to child endangerment and avoidable mortality, for the sake of tradition.

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