Update: The Department of Labor has withdrawn its proposal to ban children from helping on farms. Read more: Kid farm chore ban eliminated
But a new measure being worked through the U.S. Department of Labor could soon outlaw kids under the age of 18 from doing many of the daily chores family farms need done each day to get by.
The rule has already drawn criticism from members of Congress who represent rural districts and the prospect is proving equally unpalatable for the children the rule is meant to â??protectâ??.
The Labor Department says "Under the rules, children under 18 could no longer work in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials."
"Prohibited places of employment,â?? a Department press release read, â??would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions.â??
A County Farm Bureau president, Jeff Clark, explains that the problem isnâ??t merely about farm families losing vital labor from their children.
He told educationnews.org, "Losing that work-ethic â?? itâ??s so hard to pick this up later in life. Thereâ??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??
The new regulations were first proposed last August by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and will additionally revoke approval of safety training and certification by independent groups like the F.F.A. and 4-H, instead mandating a federal 90-hour government training course.
Republican Senator Jerry Moran, from Kansas, was already angry about farmers being cited by inspectors for chores that the Labor Department didnâ??t think were age appropriate and the new regulations will only exacerbate this problem.
â??The consequences of the things that you put in your regulations lack common sense,â?? Moran said. â??And in my view, if the federal government can regulate the kind of relationship between parents and their children on their own familyâ??s farm, there is almost nothing off-limits in which we see the federal government intruding in a way of life.â??
Do you think kids should be banned from common farm chores? Would the ban be detrimental to already suffering family farm operations? Relate your experiences as a kid on the farm...and what that work means now to you as an adult.