September 29, 2011
Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the
Renewable Fuels Association, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.
And now for today’s commentary—
Farming and ranching are very diversified businesses depending on region, crop, and livestock involved. I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to write rules and regulations on child labor for the whole country. But that’s just what the Labor Department is doing.
The rules will fall under the Child Labor Standards Act passed in 1970 and will bar children under 16 years old from handling some equipment and other farm operations. Here are some of the provisions:
- No work with animals
- Don’t handle pesticides
- Timber operations are off limits
- Don’t get close to manure pits or grain bins
- Stay away from grain elevators, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock auctions
- Stay off the tractor
They don’t restrict riding a horse yet. When will they put that on the list? Maybe they do plan to make the horse off limits. Horses are livestock. When I was a kid, we had two horses named Burt and Bill. They pulled the two-row corn planter. I was hanging around them all the time.
I drove our Farmall M tractor when I was 11 years old, pulling the hay rack while my dad and the hired hand forked loose hay on the rack. When I was 14 years old, I worked for a neighbor driving his tractor pulling his hay bailer. He paid me $1.25 per hour. That was big money.
The regulations that we are talking about have an exemption for children of a farm family. But what about all the children that might not be from your farm family? You wouldn’t dare invite them out to the farm, much less allow them to do anything.
I know that farming and ranching is a dangerous business, however, this sounds like an over reach for the federal government. Wouldn’t it be better to let the states regulate if they thought it was really necessary?
To have the kids watching TV may be safe, but it might be better to have them out doing something.
In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to http://www.johnblockreports.com.
Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.