There is no way that you can tell me that working on a farm is damaging to kids. Obviously, they have to work at a pace that they are comfortable with. But to have new regulations that make it a labor violation to basically step into a barn — c’mon.
This type of legislation could also lead to the extinction of the family farm, something that is almost here already.
Many families farm together and pass their knowledge on from generation to generation. They work together to tend the animals and crops then harvest the spoils — none of which children under the age of 16 would be able to do anymore.
So, what are the kids to do. They can’t feed any animals, because that could be considered agricultural work. They can’t drive a small tractor to help out, because that would be a no-no. I don’t even know if they could play Farmville (I’ve never played it, but if it has anything to do with farming, no playing until you’re 16).
I’m sure that these regulations are being driven by people who have never even set foot on a real farm in their lives and who think something like, “having their kids work on the farm at such a young age is basically having free labor and taking advantage of children.”
That’s just idiotic. No one ever forced me to work on the farm. The fact is, I thought that everything there was really cool and I wanted to use it, ride it or work on it. Kids always want to work with their parents or family, and parents get the chance to be with their children and teach a couple life lessons along the way.
To the argument that kids working on the farm takes jobs away from older people who need the work, you’d be wrong yet again.
The fact is, no one wants to do the work. I remember several people who assisted my grandfather on the farm. There were two families. After them, he had to rely on the help of his own family, friends and a high schooler. After he left, my grandfather never found another helper, forcing him to cease the dairy operations.
So, to the Department of Labor, stay out of this one. Let the family farm continue to be so, and worry about more pressing matters in an economy that desperately needs more labor.
Keith Lobdell is the editor of the Valley News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org