By PATRICK HOWARD
Capital News Service
LANSING – Faced with considerable opposition from state farmers, the U.S. Department of Labor is reconsidering regulations that would exclude children 16 and younger from most farm work. The regulations would prohibit young people from milking cows, feeding cattle, stacking hay bales higher than 6 feet, picking fruit from ladders more than 6 feet tall and operating basic farm equipment – except on farms wholly owned by their parents. Rep. Kevin Cotter, R-Mt Pleasant, said the proposed rule is a case of the federal government over-stepping its boundaries and playing the role of “expert” in an area it knows nothing about. Cotter said many farmers have contacted him in opposition to the regulations, indicating the measure’s unpopularity. “Agriculture is the second-largest industry in the state,” Cotter said.