6 May 2012 - Your Voices Were Heard

I titled this commentary “Breaking News - ‘Farm Kids Can Work”, so why you ask would that be breaking news? Any of us, including yours truly, who have grown up on farms and ranches, know that farm kids do a lot of work on the farm. It ‘s part of the family farm operation. It has been going on for decades, perhaps centuries. In addition to learning the responsibility of work, young people learn the work day ends when the job is finished, not when the clock says you have worked eight hours.

But the U. S. Government decided last year to change all that. You will recall that someone at the Labor Department decided farm kids should not be allowed to work on their family farm and in case you have forgotten, let me refresh your memory on the Labor Department proposal.

First of all, the rules would have banned children younger than 16 from operating most power-driven farm equipment, including tractors, if they have not taken a training course. The proposal would have also prevented those younger than 18 from working in feed lots, grain bins and stockyards. The Labor Department said it received thousands of comments about the rule and its effect on small, family owned farms. Nearly all of the comments opposed the proposed rule.

Because of that and all of the comments from individuals and farm organizations, on Friday, April 27th, this appeared on the website of the Labor Department: “....as a result, the Department of Labor is announcing today the withdrawal of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 who work in agricultural vocations.”

So, the rule has been put to bed, at least for a while.

In addition to winning this battle though, there is another point I do want to make. That is, if enough of you take the time to contact your representatives in Congress or go directly to the Labor Department, saying “This is a bad rule and it should be withdrawn”, if enough of you do that, you can make a change. It certainly happened on this proposed rule and I commend you for it. Please remember this when the government challenges you with other rules that make no sense; you can make a difference!

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.