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University of Minnesota Extension

Hiring Farm Workers Under the Age of 16

Hiring Farm Workers Under the Age of 16

By Katie Drewitz, University of Minnesota Extension 

PRESTON and CALEDONIA, Minn. (01/17/2022) — If you’re considering hiring a teenager to work on your farm or with your agribusiness, it’s important to know the laws and regulations of employing youth. 

There are several operations in agriculture that have been identified by the Federal government as being particularly hazardous for children under the age of 16. These include:

 • Operating tractors larger than 20 horsepower

 • Connecting and disconnecting implements to such tractors

 • Operating large farm implements (including combines, balers, and mixers) 

Youth under the age of 16 cannot legally perform these tasks as an employee unless the youth has completed the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program (NSTMOP) and received certification, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Hazardous Occupations Order in Agriculture. 

Each summer, University of Minnesota Extension offers NSTMOP certification through its Youth Tractor and Farm Safety Training program. The training uses a hybrid model, including an online course of the NSTMOP learning objectives and an in-person training that includes tractor operation instruction in a safe learning environment. The training course is open to any youth aged 14+. The cost is $40 per student. Fillmore and Houston County training is planned for August 1-2, 2023. 

In Minnesota, there are legally no requirements for a child working on their family’s own farm. However, parents need to put thoughtful consideration into the appropriateness of various tasks given the child’s age, physical size, and capabilities. Although it is not required by law, it is highly recommended that youth working on their own family farm also complete certification to establish a strong understanding of safe tractor operation and other safety practices on the farm. 

You can learn more about UMN Extension’s Youth Tractor and Farm Safety Training by visiting our website at z.umn.edu/YouthTractorSafety or by contacting your local Extension educator.  Residents in Fillmore and Houston counties can call 507-765-3896 or 507-725-5807 or email wins0115@umn.edu.

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