Farms are too dangerous for kids

Farmers cry foul over proposed new rules for young workers

The US Department of Labor has proposed new rules that would eliminate a large chunk of what kids under 16 years of age can do on a farm:

    The changes would:

  1. Exempt children working on farms owned 100 percent by their parents from most of the new rules.
  2. Strengthen rules for working with animals, pesticides, timber operations, manure pits and storage bins.
  3. Prohibit workers under 16 from operating almost all power-driven equipment.
  4. Prohibit youth in both agricultural and nonagricultural employment from using cell phones, walkie-talkies, etc. while operating power-driven equipment.
  5. Prohibit farmworkers under 16 from participating in cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco.
John Deere 4630

John Deere 4630
No Kids Allowed

Here is an important point regarding #1:
Partnerships between parents and children or siblings would mean their children would not be exempt.

To Murdoc, this seems like a pretty major exemption for the exemption. I don’t have any overall numbers, but many of the “family farms” run by people I know are partnerships between family members. If two brothers are partners on a family farm, neither brother’s kids would be eligible to drive a tractor.

Full disclosure: Murdoc grew up on a farm in Minnesota. Murdoc operated all sorts of heavy equipment at a young age. He also learned important safety tips like “Stay the ‘F’ away from that P.T.O. shaft!” (Although Murdoc’s dad, uncles, and grandfather would never have used that ‘F’ word, he’s pretty sure they meant it anyway, more or less…)

More from the article:

Alto farmers Bob and Jami Goble are the sole owners of their farm where they have about 175 beef cattle, so their children are not affected. But they won’t be hiring anymore high school students, Jami Goble said.

“I find it ridiculous that this is even something they’re trying to pass,” she said. “Most farm kids are very well-rounded individuals and I have a hard time imagining that someone wants to end that.”

Mrs. Goble, Murdoc is pretty sure that ending the existence of “very well-rounded individuals” is exactly what a lot of people want.

Even restricting the use of cell phones and walkie-talkies while driving a tractor or farm truck, which might seem like a reasonable move at first glance to non-farmers, would be a hardship. This is the 21st century. Many of the things that keep our farmers able to feed people are due to technological advances. It’s not at all the same situation as cell phone use while driving a car on a public roadway. Suddenly Uncle Jim can’t call Bobby and have him bring the trailer to the back field.

One day in the early 80s, young Murdoc was driving a John Deere 4630 in the field out back, pulling a trailer for his dad, uncle, and older cousin who were picking up (or maybe putting down) a pipeline for an irrigation system. Murdoc certainly had the best job out there that day, as what was being pumped through those pipes was NOT cool, clean water, and the pipes stank to high heaven. Anyway, my dad had to run back and forth from where they were working to tell me where to take the tractor next. At some point while I sat idle, I zoned out a bit and my dad couldn’t get my attention. So he threw a clod of dirt at the tractor so I would get it in gear again. The whole morning probably took twice as long as it needed to due to all the running back and forth and delays due to inability to communicate easily.

The Department of Labor wants farmers to stop using 21st century communications devices and go back to using clods of dirt.

Of course, as our “family farm” was not 100% owned by my father, I wouldn’t have been driving that tractor in the first place under these new rules. We would have had to use an adult employee all morning to sit in a tractor and do what nearly any 9-year-old could do.

Never mind the effect these new restrictions would have on kids, and Murdoc thinks the effects would be significantly damaging. The impact on farmers would be noticeable. Which would create a noticeable impact on food prices. Which would create a noticeable impact on the economy. Which would lead, of course, to additional government meddling to help all the poor people who can barely get by.

It’s almost like there’s a plan, or something.


  1. There are not enough feds to enforce this crap. I think that most framers will just be low key about it.

    1. Quite likely. That doesn’t excuse crappy lawmaking.

      For one thing, there needs to be pushback against this garbage.

      For another, many honest hard-working American farmer types will follow the law regardless of whether it makes any sense or not.

      And even if they ignore it for their own kids, they’ll probably adhere to it when it comes to hiring other kids.

      Finally, the law will be on the books and will be enforceable at the whim of anyone who wants to utilize it.

      What if some farmer’s kid, or his neighbor’s kid who he hired, gets hurt in violation of this law? The farmer could be fined badly or worse over it.

    1. After I saw the Amish brought up somewhere I wondered how this would go over with them. Are their farms 100% family owned? That would at least exempt them from their own kids working on the farm, though I know that community effort is common.

      Also, they probably wouldn’t care so much about the cell phone ban. Depending on who and where, the tractor and machinery restricitons wouldn’t be a problem either…

  2. For another, many honest hard-working American farmer types will follow the law regardless of whether it makes any sense or not.

    I doubt it. It’s illegal to hire illegals yet that hasn’t stopped them. BTW, I bet the department of labor works harder to enforce this law than they do with the hiring of illegals.

    1. I disagree, at least based on my own experiences. You’ve got a good point about farmers hiring illegals, though. And another one about how this will probably get more attention than that.

      1. Well, I should clarify a bit. First, I *DO* agree that many farmers will ignore the law.

        Second, many otherwise-law-abiding types will maybe WANT to obey it but feel that they have little choice and ignore it out of necessity or convenience.

        Third, many other honest farmers will ignore it because fuck the government.

        I didn’t mean to imply that all the good honest farmers would fall in line, the poor, poor buggers. They’re all such good people. Foundation of America, and all that.

        But many may feel that they should or that they’re obligated to, and they shouldn’t be put in a position where they have to choose between obeying the law OR doing something that makes sense.

        Of course, that applies to a lot of us a lot of the time.

    1. THis is actually Corporate Welfare-ist BS disguised as Socialist BS, as it limits the competition the mega-farm companies must face.

      To help level the farming field, there is a different bill in the works:
      “The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act
      Sponsored by Representative Chellie Pingree and Senator Sherrod Brown
      The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act will improve federal farm bill programs that support local and regional farm and food systems. This legislation will help farmers and ranchers engaged in local and regional agriculture by addressing production, aggregation, processing, marketing, and distribution needs and will also assist consumers by improving access to healthy food and direct and retail markets. And of utmost importance, this legislation will provide more secure funding for critically important programs that support family farms, expand new farming opportunities, and invest in the local agriculture economy.

  3. So now that the kids can’t do the wholesome activities of developing a good work ethic, what exactly does the government propose they do with their free time? I’d put in some answers but I don’t want to throw any negativity on the kids. We need to dump these guys at the Department of Labor. What’s really dangerous is not kids on tractors, but socialistic/Communistic bureaucrats in D.C. micro-managing everything, invading the judicial system to change laws contrary to the meaning of the Constitution, and in general destroying our economy, our way of life, and our freedom.

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