LIMA — The agricultural community, especially small family farms, can rest easy knowing proposed restrictions on their children’s involvement on the farm are a thing of the past. The U.S. Labor Department has backed down from a proposal that would limit youth from working on farms not solely owned by their parents.“I think the right thing was done,” said Carolyn Gable, who with husband Elmer, owns a dairy farm in Leipsic. “I think this is great. Our voices were heard.”The department faced much opposition from farmers, along with elected officials like Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green.“This is a clear victory for the agricultural community and the next generation of farmers,” Latta said in a press release.“The Department of Labor made the right decision in halting a regulation that is an overreach and intrusion into family farms across America.”Latta believed the restrictions would have crushed an already declining farming community in Ohio. The proposal also worried 4-H and Future Farmers of America officials. The proposed rule would have restricted children younger than 16 from working on family farms unless the farms were solely owned by their parents. It would have made it illegal for grandchildren and nieces and nephews to contribute. The proposal would have also prohibited children from handling animals and almost all powered farm equipment. Driving lawn mowers and handheld weed cutters would have been considered off limits for those under 16. Working six feet off the ground would also have been banned for those under 16.Gable has 19 grandchildren who have all helped on the farm. The family has also used other relatives and neighbor youth to help with jobs like milking, feeding, mowing grass and baling hay. It frees up adults for other work, especially during busy times.“It would have undid everything that has been done for quite a few generations,” Gable said of the proposal.Hundreds of letters were sent to the department of labor last month from people like Gable. “I’d like to thank the hundreds of Ohio farmers who shared their personal stories on how the proposed regulation would negatively impact their families and farms,” Latta said. “This is proof that we can’t remain on the sidelines when the President’s Labor Department attempts to intrude on citizens’ livelihoods and community values.”You can comment on this story at www.limaohio.com.