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Agriculture Today

New rule robbing our kids?

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December 28, 2011 | 2,741 views | Post a comment

The U.S. Department of Labor is proposing to change the regulations regarding children working on farms.

The proposed rules would ban children from dangerous activities such as working on a hay stack higher than 6 feet above the ground, using any power tool, or herding cattle with a horse. Under the new rules, children would be required to complete at least 90 hours of classroom instructions before they could be hired to work on a farm. As you might imagine, as the father of six young farm children, this proposal concerns me. I wrote the following comments and submitted them to the Department of Labor for their consideration:

I am concerned about the Department of Labor child labor rule, “Child Labor Regulations, Orders and Statements of Interpretation” (RIN 1235-AA06). I have been involved with agriculture all my life. As a young boy, I helped my grandfather and my uncles on the family dairy farm doing everything from milking cows and feeding calves to hauling hay and helping in the fields. I count my experiences on the farm as a great blessing in my life. The lessons I learned helped form me into the man I have become. Had these proposed new rules been in effect when I was a boy, my helping on the farm would have been against the law. One of the great memories I have of growing up on the farm is each fall filling the old hayloft with approximately 2,000 bales of straw. This was a hot, dusty job that was performed well above the 6-foot high limit proposed by the new rules.

Today, I have chosen to raise my six children on a small family farm. This farm happens to be incorporated. Not only do I have my children help on the farm, I have many neighbors who practically beg me to give their children a job and the opportunity to learn to work, too. The proposed changes would prevent me from allowing children to work on my farm and rob them of the valuable lessons that they could learn.

I understand that safety is an issue. No one is more concerned about that than me. It is my children who work with me. I believe that the work environment I provide for the children on my farm is safe. Children are monitored closely as they work and are only given tasks that are age appropriate.

I could not operate my farm without the help of my children, and the lessons I learned working with my family from my youth. I would hope this tradition can continue.

Youth need the opportunity to learn responsibility, the value of hard work, and earn a little spending money. This regulation would restrict their ability to do all three. It would not only be bad for farms, it would also be bad for America’s youth.

I would strongly encourage your reconsideration of “Child Labor Regulations, Orders and Statements of Interpretation” (RIN 1235-AA06).

Editor’s Note: This post is reprinted from the American Farm Bureau Federation blog at

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