I did not grow up on a farm. I am not sure I have ever been on one (other than school trips and a friend who has a barn and various animals). However, I am aware that the food in the grocery store comes from farms–many of them family-owned. The attack on the family farm through the estate tax is obvious–many family farms are land-rich, but do not have the liquid assets to pay off estate taxes–many of those families have to sell the family farm to pay the estate taxes. Now there is a new attack on the family farm and the culture and work ethic it represents.
Townhall.com reports that a new sweeping set of rules proposed by Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor, will change the dynamic on the family farm.
The article reports the proposed changes:
- Prohibit children under 16 who are being paid from operating most power-driven equipment, including tractors and combines. Some student-learners would be exempted from the ban on operating tractors and other farm implements, but only if the equipment has rollover protection and seat belts.
- Bar those under 18 from working at grain elevators, silos, feedlots and livestock auctions and from transporting raw farm materials.
- Prevent youths 15 and younger from cultivating, curing and harvesting tobacco to prevent exposure to green tobacco sickness, which is caused by exposure to wet tobacco plants.
- Prohibit youths from using electronic devices such as cellphones while operating power-driven equipment.
Solis believes that some farm work is “too hazardous for children to be engaged in.” How she knows this is anyone’s guess since she apparently has never lived or worked on a farm, nor do we find any evidence that she has children of her own.
My experience is that the children who grow up on farms learn a lot of things other than how to drive a tractor. They learn to contribute to a family business. They learn the value and satisfaction of a job well done. They learn a work ethic. Many of the jobs this law would prohibit those under 18 from doing are the jobs those children do to earn money to go to college. Parents are the best judge of what equipment their children are able to operate–not the government.