As I relate in a post at Cato at Liberty, the Obama Labor Department has withdrawn a far-reaching proposal that would have banned much or most work done by kids on farms, even work for their own family members (a narrow exemption would have remained in cases where parents were the sole owners of a farmstead). The proposals drew a huge outcry from rural America (earlier here and here).
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation (PDF),
For approximately a decade, activists have attempted to pass legislation amending the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to restrict the ability of youth under the age of 16 to work in agriculture. The legislation has never been scheduled for a vote or even a hearing, and the DOL-proposed rule change is [was] apparently an effort to restrict youth employment in agriculture through regulation.
If it seems impossibly extreme to forbid 15-year-olds from feeding chickens at a neighboring farm owned by their aunt, be aware that many groups organized around the fine-sounding mission of ending “child labor” would like to institute bans that go even further. For example, an NGO by the name of Global March Against Child Labor (represented in Washington, D.C. here) supported the DoL rules and declares itself “of the view that child labour in agriculture should not be allowed in any part of the world and in any form- whether as family labour or as hired labour.”
P.S. For more pro-ban sentiment, see this piece by AP labor correspondent Sam Hananel stenographizing the views of groups like Human Rights Watch.