The young people on neighboring farms always had chores, it was a part of life. They seemed to like it, raised their own cows to show on the local fairs and earn their own money, and basically were responsible kids who grew up to be responsible adults.
That part of our life and heritage could be over thanks to BIG government.
A proposal from the Obama administration to prevent children from doing farm chores has drawn plenty of criticism from rural-district members of Congress. But now itâ€™s attracting barbs from farm kids themselves.
The Department of Labor is poised to put the finishing touches on a rule that would apply child-labor laws to children working on family farms, prohibiting them from performing a list of jobs on their own familiesâ€™ land.
Under the rules, children under 18 could no longer work â€œin the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials.â€
â€œProhibited places of employment,â€ a Department press release read, â€œwould include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions.â€
The new regulations, first proposed August 31 by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, would also revoke the governmentâ€™s approval of safety training and certification taught by independent groups like 4-H and FFA, replacing them instead with a 90-hour federal government training course.
Rossie Blinson, a 21-year-old college student from Buis Creek, N.C., told The Daily Caller that the federal governmentâ€™s plan will do far more harm than good.
â€œThe main concern I have is that it would prevent kids from doing 4-H and FFA projects if theyâ€™re not at their parentsâ€™ house,â€ said Blinson.
â€œI started showing sheep when I was four years old. I started with cattle around 8. Itâ€™s been very important. I learned a lot of responsibility being a farm kid.â€
In Kansas, Cherokee County Farm Bureau president Jeff Clark was out in the field â€” literally on a tractor â€” when TheDC reached him. He said if Solisâ€™s regulations are implemented, farming familiesâ€™ labor losses from their children will only be part of the problem.
â€œWhat would be more of a blow,â€ he said, â€œis not teaching our kids the values of working on a farm.â€
The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the average age of the American farmer is now over 50.
â€œLosing that work-ethic â€” itâ€™s so hard to pick this up later in life,â€ Clark said. â€œThereâ€™s other ways to learn how to farm, but itâ€™s so hard. You can learn so much more working on the farm when youâ€™re 12, 13, 14 years old.â€
John Weber, 19, understands this. The Minneapolis native grew up in suburbia and learned the livestock business working summers on his relativesâ€™ farm.
Heâ€™s now a college Agriculture major.
â€œI started working on my grandparentâ€™s and uncleâ€™s farms for a couple of weeks in the summer when I was 12,â€ Weber told TheDC. â€œI started spending full summers there when I was 13.â€
â€œThe work ethic is a huge part of it. It gave me a lot of direction and opportunity in my life. If they do this it will prevent a lot of interest in agriculture. Itâ€™s harder to get a 16 year-old interested in farming than a 12 year old.â€
Weber is also a small businessman. In high school, he said, he took out a loan and bought a few steers to raise for income. â€œUnder these regulations,â€ he explained, â€œI wouldnâ€™t be allowed to do that.â€