Freaking ridiculous, child labor laws coming to family farms

Banning kids from working on their family’s farms? Like most government ideas, that’s just plain stupid.

Farmer’s kids working on the family farm is completely normal. Kids have worked on their family’s farm since cavemen invented agriculture. Leave it to the government to screw even that up. Farm labor is helpful for the family and really good for the kids in order to build a work ethic.

People ask me how I can have a full time professional job, and still manage to write two 150,000 word novels a year… It is because I grew up on a dairy farm and everything is easy in comparison to that.  Youth today think college is hard? Nobody who has ever milked cows as a kid thinks that college is hard. College is what you do because you don’t want to ever milk cows again. Oooh, your entry level corporate position is difficult? Beats moving hay. Shut up and file. Oh noes! I may have to work late! Is it 1:00 AM, in the rain, and you are pulling a slimey breached calf out of the back end of a Holstein? No?  Woohoo! Order pizza ’cause I’m working late at my air conditioned office!

I’m not alone. Ask anybody that grew up working on a family farm. We might have complained about it then, especially when you are a teenager and you want to go have fun, but you can’t, because the stupid cows jumped the stupid fence again… But ask us as adults and most of us will say the same thing. I wouldn’t trade it.

My biggest challenge as a father is trying to figure out how to instill a good work ethic into my children without using Holsteins.

This is just another example of the ever growing government meddling uselessly in even more areas of your life. Of course, idiots who have never been on a farm will think this is awesome, because somebody needs to PROTECT THE CHILDREN! (just not from getting fingered at the airport by the TSA). This is similar to idiots who are in favor of every other bothersome useless government program that is supposed to protect somebody from something. Won’t somebody THINK OF THE CHILDREN! (just don’t think about the debt we are saddling them with).  CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE! (or at least other country’s children are our future, because all of ours going to public school are getting screwed over by unionized big education).

Look, morons that have never set foot on a farm, if you think this is a good idea, then you are an idiot. Take whatever hypothetical crisis you are worried about and shove it. I’m sure some bureucrat somewhere can cite some horrible case to justify this, but child abuse is already illegal, and the rest of this crap is just another power grab. (kind of like how we needed Obamacare because of the epidemic of doctor’s fraudulently cutting patient’s feet off for no reason and how we need gun control to control all the guns the Justice Department ships to Mexico) Government just keeps getting bigger and bigger and more and more intrusive.  Angsty liberal types love this sort of meddling until it comes back to bite them in the ass. Remember the freak out from the hipsters over SOPA? Yeah, welcome to the party. You guys cheer for government taking stuff over until it is something you’re into, then you scream facism.

This is asinine. Leave farm kids alone.

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36 thoughts on “Freaking ridiculous, child labor laws coming to family farms”

  1. NIghtcrawler has the right of it. Keep in mind that those kids are:
    A. Taking jobs from what are union workers in many states,
    B. Often mean the difference between a family farm succeeding or being bought by a large Democratic Party campaign contributor (like ADM, Conagra, Monsanto, Etc.).
    C. Those family farms often do things that the extreme base of the Democratic party find objectionable. Things like exploiting animals (dairy and egg production are slavery), and using pesticides.

  2. Hah! I forwarded this one to some leftist friends who went to Harvard while I paid for a 2nd tier college through commercial fishing. The easiest day I ever had as a fisherman was harder than my hardest day in any other job.

    Also, note to dracphelan, ADM, Con-Agra and Monsanto contribute equally to both parties. John McCain is their particular mouthpiece. All of them are invested in maintaining the particular business model that works for them, which is the status quo. I’d be curious as to whether or not they’d care about this issue sufficient to spend PAC money to address it. Farm consolidation is a non-partisan problem… or it was until now, anyhow.

    1. I don’t deny that they give to both parties. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see this under a Republican administration.

  3. Is it paranoid to suspect this regulation isn’t so much about what it bans, but about the powers needed to enforce it?

  4. The line about work ethic and holsteins is gold.

    And the reason why the mexicans come north to work on farms is BECAUSE nobody in this country has said work ethic anymore. The number of kids I’ve seen try to work on a farm in all my life is probably three less than the number of kids who’ve stayed.

    Unfortunately, agriculture’s less than 2% of the population, and dairying is .05%, so we’re boned. And back-to-nature hippie pastoralism and rooftop gardens isn’t going to teach kids how to use comealong and a hammer.

    And really, compared to dealing with customer, I’d rather be pulling a breech calf.

    1. There’s a problem with that. See, almost all farms, even family farms are technically owned, not by the family, but by a corporation. Usually an LLC but sometimes an S-corp. So what we didn’t get into, because frankly we didn’t have the space is that all the DoL has to do is interpret the law so that the kids are working for the corporation, not their family and the parents are hosed. Easy to do as well. If they pay them an allowance at all suddenly they’re employees.

      Oh and thanks for the link Larry!

    2. From my skimming of the issue for the past few months, the exemption is ONLY for a sole proprietorship. So if the farm is structured as a partnership, LLC., etc. then the exemption would not apply. Personally I know very few family farms that are actually a SP.

      1. Plus, (disregarding the fact that it still shouldn’t be any of the government’s damn business) what about if as a kid you want to go help on a friend’s farm? There were times when I went over to “work” on a friends farm (which usually meant goofing around) or they came over to work on ours. Or what about when my suburbanite cousins came out and worked on our farm? There are plenty of kids in FFA who work on farms that their family doesn’t own. I knew kids that lived in town that kept their show cows on some other person’s farm, and usually traded cow/horse/pig/sheep room and board for things like moving hay or cleaning out stalls.

        But most importantly of all, IT IS NONE OF THE GOVERNMENT’S DAMN BUSINESS.

    3. So it would still make it illegal for the neighborhood kids to help bring in the tobacco on our farm in exchange for us helping bring in the tobacco on their farm. Or our cousins to help.

  5. I have to agree Larry I went Milton Hershey I had to work on a dairy farm. I hated it but it did instill a good work ethic. The only thing your entiltled to on a dairy is a kick in the head if your not paying attention.

  6. I grew up taking care of everything from horses and cows to rabbits and chickens. It wasn’t easy, but it was enjoyable if you took pride in your work. If the government wants to reduce the number of children that are responsible adults, they are on the right track.

  7. I just have to add, that Ag work is a learned skill that takes a lifetime to build. I started to learn to work cows, on horseback, and on foot before my 6th birthday. I cant imagine stepping into a feedlot and being able to safely handle cattle if I had never seen a cow, much less a bull, before I had turned 18. Heck, I am 36 and I still get run up a fence now and again, but at least I know enough to know when it is time to start running.

  8. Some of my fondest memories is working on my grandfather’s farm.
    I miss the farm, the Columbia River, the seasons, and the freedom the farm represented.
    Good grief I belonged to that Right Wing Radical group, the FFA.
    I’m a combination farm-boy and city-kid.
    I stole eggs from those poor deluded free range chickens, murdered skunks, possum, and racoons trying to provide a meal for their families.

  9. Oops, forgot to mention that I learned to walk thru a pasture, with minimal attention, without stepping on a cow pie !

  10. Larry,
    I tend to agree with you on most of your points that you made here. I’ve helped on a farm, my family owns a farm (cows, pig, chickens, hay, corn, etc, etc, etc) and I help out from time to time. YES, it’s backbreaking work but I have to say that it’s 100 times more satisfying than my day to day career.

    Now, that that’s out of the way, I’m going to make the assumption that you read the WHD news release. I’m also thinking that like me you got a bit ticked off at most of it and if I hadn’t read it two or three times, I don’t think I would have seen the part about the family farm exemption. I’d like to hear more about that exemption before TOTALLY condemning this. I do however think that it’s just another way overall to create yet MORE government intrusion into our daily lives and create more nepotistic opportunities for the nut jobs in office to dole out to their friends, family and those who bow down and grease the palms.

    I ‘think’ that the ‘intent’ of the overall thing is good, but putting it in practice (like all things big government) is going to end up putting a very disturbing taste in all our mouths.

    If it wasn’t for the family farm exemption thing, I think I’d have been more up in arms about this as what exactly do they consider a farm? Do chickens, Guinea hens, goats and a 150 by 100 ‘garden’ constitute a farm? If so, I’d be really screwed if it weren’t for the family farm exemption thing. Hell, I still might be really screwed depending on what they consider an actual exemption. Or how ‘involved’ they are going to get with it.

    Either way, it’s just another way they’re putting themselves into our business.

  11. @Normanomicon,

    You’re overlooking a couple of things. They’re kind of important things.

    1. Grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins of farm owners are NOT exempted. The exemption is solely for farms owned by the child’s parents.

    2. As mentioned, most farms are owned by LLCs and/or S-Corps, which are in turn owned by parents. A not-even-very-narrow interpretation of the law completely bones anyone trying to protect their personal belongings from being repossessed in the event of a drought or other things beyond their control.

    This is at LEAST as bad as what Estate taxes do to family farms, which is to bend them over and use a telephone pole. Without lube.

  12. I worked one summer (summer after my junior year of college) as a construction temp worker (couldn’t find any other part time job in my college town… and for the two previous summers I’d been on the county mowing crew for the water department back home)….

    If I’d ever needed any encouragement to stay in college (didn’t, really), that was it. Especially the final two and a half weeks where I worked with pipe fitters…. good LORD that was hard work.

    The next summer I worked in the records office of my university. That was easy. From the actual employees there, I worked my tail off. And I suppose I did, but comparing that to the previous summer, especially working with pipe fitters hanging pipe and setting up the on-roof AC/heating water system (with it’s much heavier 3″ and 4″ steel piping, and hauling it around the roof in it’s full un-cut lengths)…. the office work was ridiculously easy.

    Life in the office has its own stresses, though, that’s for sure. But I’ll never forget that summer where I worked mowing grass, sealing duct work, cutting and hanging pipe, hauling around recirculation pumps, cleaning up jobsites (on a side note, you know who are the biggest, messiest and most disregarding workers when it comes to throwing away their trash…. especially their lunch remains? The shady hispanic day-workers… I remember the hispanic site boss who had hired me was visibly pissed with them… pissed enough he tacked on extra hours onto my timesheet as a way to give me a bonus for diligently cleaning up after them even though I really didn’t have to), etc. I’m sticking to brain-work.

  13. I miss construction work, I miss working with my dad repairing shoes. I miss framing, (never thought id say that) If I knew of a steady construction job Id be in my work belt and hard hat before my co workers had time to plant two lips on my kiester. at least on a farm or construction site basic arguments can be settled by a punch or two if no other way.

  14. I learned to run a chainsaw at 14 on my buddy’s farm. I exchanged work clearing their land and haying fields for riding lessons from his family. Little did I know that I was being exploited the whole time! I demand reparations! Who is the Jesse Jackson of agricultural youth???

  15. Don’t sell yourself short. 😉 While I’m only a hobbyist at writing fiction, it takes more out of me than digging ditch ever did.

    I’m trying to wrap my head around what will happen if entire communities are suddenly criminalized. I’m not liking what I’m coming up with.

  16. Looking at Larry’s comment about kids swapping labor at each others’ farms to share the load and share some company, how long until they decide that housewives visiting one another to share housecleaning/child-minding chores is taking jobs from union maids and day-care workers and must be regulated?

  17. Nobody else has mentioned this little tid-bit:

    “The new regulations, first proposed August 31 by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, would also revoke the government’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.”

    If I’m reading this right the all seeing, all knowing, hyper beneveolent, super compassionate government is going to eliminate the certification of a farm safety program designed and implemented by the two groups with the most practical experience in teaching farm kids and replace them with a 90 hour program planned and executed by Washington Farm Policy and Occupational Health and Safety experts.

    Three quick questions: how much will this cost the farmer, who will pay for it, and how far will the kids have to travel to take the course?


  18. Government: “Farm work is hard work and not appropriate for children. Next, we would like to discuss our newest Federal program to combat childhood obesity by encouraging children to exercise!”

  19. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention, but growing up in Nebraska and working in rural Iowa and Kansas, it was the adults who got hurt on the farm, not kids under 16. Eaten by hog? Adult. Smothered by gasses in a silo? Adult. Combine accidents? All adult. Anhydrous accident? Hmmm, chronologically an adult (straddled the tank valve and used both hands when he couldn’t get to the contents easily. Joined Darwin Award winner’s circle and got 15 years for theft and meth making when they got to his home lab set-up). Run over by sheep while mutton bustin’ at the fair? OK, that doesn’t really count since the kid got up and walked out of the arena without help. Run over by proddy cow? All ages. *shrug* So much for “saving the children.”

  20. Yes, Larry, I am reading your blog from front to back. 🙂 Just wanted to add that while I don’t come from a farming family, my cousins do, and my parents got a lot of their parenting philosophy from my farmer uncle and aunt. If I wanted anything beyond basic food and clothing, I had to earn the money for it and buy it myself (although they were happy to help me research my purchasing options, and I gladly accepted that help). And I don’t mean getting paid for my own household chores — I had to find people in the neighbourhood who wanted real work done, and do it.

    The one exception was my first car, a hand-me-down from my granddad. I had to replace the shocks myself before I was allowed to drive it. Dad drove me to the auto parts store and graciously paid for the new shocks, but all the greasy parts were my responsibility and I’m glad he made me do it. There is nothing intimidating about auto repair now.

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