Hazardous Agricultural Occupations for Children under 16 Years Old

Hazardous Agricultural Occupations for Children under 16 Years Old


The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits employers from employing youth under the age of 16 in agricultural occupations if the occupations are particularly hazardous for youth under the age of 16, except in the limited circumstances listed below. 29 US Code 213(c)(2); 29 CFR 570.70(a), (b)




Agriculture definition

For purpose of this restriction on youth employment, agriculture means farming in all its branches including but not limited to:

  • cultivating and tilling soil
  • dairying
  • producing, cultivating, growing, and harvesting any agricultural or horticultural commodities (including commodities defined as agricultural commodities in section 15(g) of the Agricultural Marketing Act, as amended)
  • raising livestock, bees, fur-bearing animals, or poultry
  • any practices, including any forestry or lumbering operations, performed by a farmer or on a farm that are incidental to or performed in conjunction with farming operationss, including preparation for market, delivery to storage or to market or to carriers for transportation to market

29 US Code 203(f); 29 CFR 570.70(c)(1)



Particularly hazardous agricultural occupations

The US Department of Labor has determined that the following agricultural occupations are particularly hazardous for minors under the age of 16 and, thus, youth under 16 cannot work in these occupations unless one of the exceptions discussed in the section below applies:

  • operating a tractor of over 20 PTO horsepower, or connecting or disconnecting implements or any of its parts to or from such a tractor
  • operating or assisting to operate, including starting, stopping, adjusting, feeding, or any other activity involving physical contact associated with the operation, any of the following machines:
    • corn picker, cotton picker, grain combine, hay mower, forage harvester, hay baler, potato digger, or mobile pea viner
    • feed grinder, crop dryer, forage blower, auger conveyor, or the unloading mechanism of a nongravity-type self-unloading wagon or trailer
    • power post-hole digger, power post driver, or nonwalking type rotary tiller
    • trencher or earthmoving equipment
    • fork lift
    • potato combine
    • power-driven circular, band, or chain saw
  • working on a farm in a yard, pen, or stall occupied by a:
    • bull, boar, or stud horse maintained for breeding purposes
    • sow with suckling pigs, or cow with newborn calf (with umbilical cord present)
  • felling, bucking, skidding, loading, or unloading timber with butt diameter of more than 6 inches
  • working from a ladder or scaffold painting, repairing, or building structures, pruning trees, picking fruit, etc., at a height of over 20 feet
  • driving a bus, truck, or automobile when transporting passengers, or riding on a tractor as a passenger or helper
  • working inside:
    • fruit, forage, or grain storage designed to retain an oxygen deficient or toxic atmosphere
    • an upright silo within 2 weeks after silage has been added or when a top unloading device is in operating position
    • a manure pit
    • a horizontal silo while operating a tractor for packing purposes
  • handling or applying, including cleaning or decontaminating equipment, disposal or return of empty containers, or serving as a flagman for aircraft applying, agricultural chemicals classified under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (7 U.S.C. 135 et seq.) as Category I of toxicity, identified by the word “poison” and the “skull and crossbones” on the label; or Category II of toxicity, identified by the word “warning” on the label
  • handling or using a blasting agent, including but not limited to, dynamite, black powder, sensitized ammonium nitrate, blasting caps, and primer cord
  • transporting, transferring, or applying anhydrous ammonia

29 CFR 570.71(a)



Exceptions to agricultural occupation limitations

The Fair Labor Standards Act provides some exceptions to the agricultural occupation limitations discussed above. The exceptions are either discussed or can be found at the pages linked below:

Youth employed by a parent

The restrictions on youth employment for particularly hazardous agricultural occupations for minors under the age of 16 does not apply when the employer is the youth’s parent or person standing in the place of the youth’s parent and the youth works on a farm owned and operated by the parent or person standing in the place of the parent. 29 US Code 213(c)(2); 29 CFR 570.70(b)

Student learners

The restriction on youth employment for particularly hazardous agricultural occupations for minors under the age of 16 does not apply when the minor is employed as a vocational agriculture student-learner. This exception for agricultural child labor is discussed on our Agriculture Student-Learner Child Labor Exception page.

4-H and related training programs

The restriction on youth employment for particularly hazardous agricultural occupations for minors under the age of 16 does not apply when the minor has successfully completed one or more training programs provided by the 4-H or related training programs. This exception for agricultural child labor is discussed on our 4-H and Related Agricultural Training Child Labor Exception page.