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Tossed Out

Fact checking the farm talk

The din from farm country has been loud and long since the U.S. Department of Labor proposed new child labor regulations that would limit what jobs kids under 16 could do on the farm.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney must have heard it, too, since he alluded to the plan in his victory speech this week after winning the Illinois primary

“Under President Obama, bureaucrats …  even tell farmers what their 15-year-old sons and daughters can and can’t do on the family farm.”

Problem is: Romney’s wrong.

As FactCheck.org reports -- and our many stories on the child labor issue have also made plain -- there’s a parental exemption in the plan, so kids can work on their parents’ farms without fear of the Labor Department.

In fact, the Labor Department rewrote part of the proposal last month, softening its stance and broadening the definition of parental exemption to allow other extended family members – like uncles, aunts and grandparents – to also be exempted from the regulations.

FactCheck.org also points out errors in former candidates Herman Cain and Rick Perry stump speeches.

Herman Cain falsely claimed the Environmental Protection Agency planned to regulate farm dust. Rick Perry was wrong when he said the Obama administration wanted to require farmers to obtain a commercial driver’s license to ride tractors across public roads.

Harvest Public Media has a good roundup of all the GOP candidate’s on farm issues, which we did back during the Iowa caucuses and which can be found here.

And how do other Republicans feel about the child labor proposal? This week, two Republican senators from Kansas floated a bill that would prohibit the Labor Department from implementing the controversial plan.

What do you think? Should the government scrap its child labor plan? Share your experience with the Harvest Network.

Meanwhile, Romney has named his farm policy advisors, the San Francisco Chronicle reported last week, and it’s heavy on California growers with a few Nebraskans thrown in.