You have got to be kidding me. This week, one of our reporters wrote on new regulations that have been proposed by the Federal Department of Labor that would make it all but impossible for children under the age of 16 to work on a farm, unless it is owned by their parents.
Yes, I understand that there are rules about how old you have to be to be hired for a job, but these regulations would also make it illegal for say, the grandson of a farmer to, and I quote:
“Participate in agricultural work with animals, pesticide handling, timber operations, manure pits and storage bins. They would further be unable to operate almost all power-driven equipment.”
So, what these rules are saying is that if you live on a farm and you are under the age of 16, don’t leave the house.
When I was a kid, I spent the vast majority of my summer and plenty of weekends at the South Farm in Essex when my grandparents oversaw the estate that is now owned by Gov. George Pataki.
What did I do when I was there?
Well, I milked cows (not a lot, but even once would be a no-no under these new regulations), jumped at the chance to be the one to use the “bug bombs” in the barn, cut down trees, clean out the barns, work in the hay mow, silo and grain bin and drive tractor while operating rakes, mowers, bailers and a wide assortment of other power-driven equipment — all before the age of 16!
So if I were to have my kids do that, you’re telling me that I am creating a felon? That by learning how to work, I am doing something wrong?
I learned how to drive on the farm. In all my years there (I probably started driving around with assistance before I turned 10 and drove on my own by 12), I only had one accident with a tractor or truck (it had to do with a tractor, a barn, and the wall that used to be on the back of said barn).
Keith Lobdell is the editor of the Valley News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org