Last August, two teenagers handling a large grain auger had their legs severed while working at the Zaloudek Grain Co. in Oklahoma. The Department of Labor has proposed rules that might have prevented this tragedy. The rules, designed to curb dangerous child labor in agriculture, were finally unveiled after a long delay. The labor changes would prevent children from working in harsh conditions, including operating heavy machinery.
The Huffington Post’s Dave Jamieson reports that Congressman Denny Rehberg, however, is pushing a legislative effort to block the administration from implementing these child labor rules. Although Rehberg has argued that his effort is an attempt to stop the “urban” Department of Labor from manipulating “rural” America, big agribusiness money lurks in the background.
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According to an e-mail obtained by the Republic Report, the American Farm Bureau, a lobbying group associated with Monsanto, ConAgra, Tyson, and other large food manufacturers, “took the lead in bringing together a broad group of organizations” to file comments in opposition to the Department of Labor rule, and to encourage other members of Congress to back Rehberg’s request for delays.
The Republic Report’s Matt Stoller covered some of Rehberg’s pro-child labor antics yesterday. Montana Senator Jon Tester (D), who is running against Rehberg this year, has also voiced opposition to aspects of the Labor Department rule.
Republic Report is an investigative news blog dedicated uncovering the corrupting influence of money in politics.