Feds regulate farm chores for kids

My kids’ friends that I like the most are farm kids. It’s simple. Working on a farm makes kids hard-working and responsible. When my kids complain about their chores, I love that I can point to their friends who come home from school to do real chores — the kind that entail braving the cold barn and doing things that impact their families’ bottom line. That puts organizing your sock drawer in perspective fast.

Well now the federal government is stepping in to regulate the kind of work kids can do on a farm – no helping out in the silo, grain bins or elevators and no working at the livestock exchange or auction. While the regulations technically exclude kids working on their parent’s farm, but what if Jimmy works on grandma’s farm or Uncle Joe is paying his niece to help him out with the livestock? And where does it end? It’s a slippery slope. Like an octopus, government’s tendency is to reach further and further into our lives.

Other casualties in the war on American work ethic are 4-H clubs and Future Farmers of America. In addition to the impact a livestock exchange or auction ban would have on the clubs, the US Labor Department wants to replace the clubs’ training programs with a federally approved 90-hour course, making it all but prohibitive for the average kid to participate.

As one farmer described the new regulations, the biggest, “blow is not teaching our kids the values of working on a farm. Losing that work-ethic – it’s so hard to pick this up later in life.”

As a parent, I can’t think of a more cautionary example of the perils of big government. The sense of purpose gained from contributing to a family or neighbor’s enterprise harkens us back to a traditional American model of self-reliance, precisely at a time when nearly half of US kids and 90% of African-American kids are being raised on government food stamps.

I live in a farming state and area. This is an attack on the Wisconsin way of life that will not only change how family farms are run, but who we are for generations to come.



53 thoughts on “Feds regulate farm chores for kids

  1. Belisarius says:

    My family has two dairy cows. When we go out of town, we hire some teenage friends to milk them for us. Who can do it when we go now, bureaucrats? I understand it may be dangerous (I have sustained at least one substantial chest kick while training a cow to milk) but animals kids will be around are broken in anyways.

  2. dennis says:

    lets all of us be perfectly honest….what true farmboy is really gonna pay attention to this crap? Any of us out there with that need to till land, and raise livestock arent gonna give two heaps of crap what the federal government says. Without the farmers, america starves, i mean its not like the government has anything else to do, (national debt crisis, elections, meddling in foreign policies we ought not to…signed, Army Veteran, Country Boy in exhile

  3. James says:

    Unfortunately, what you are writing isn’t completely true. There is an exemption for children working on a family farm. Please read below and stop trying whip people up into an unnecessary frenzy.

    The U.S. Department of Labor is proposing revisions to child labor regulations that will strengthen the safety requirements for young workers employed in agriculture and related fields. The agricultural hazardous occupations orders under the Fair Labor Standards Act that bar young workers from certain tasks have not been updated since they were promulgated in 1970.

    The department is proposing updates based on the enforcement experiences of its Wage and Hour Division, recommendations made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and a commitment to bring parity between the rules for young workers employed in agricultural jobs and the more stringent rules that apply to those employed in nonagricultural workplaces. The proposed regulations would not apply to children working on farms owned by their parents.

    The Dept. of Labor repeats this in a subsequent press release, as well as the idea that the new rules would eliminate programs like 4-H and FFA:

    The parental exemption for the owner or operator of a farm is statutory and cannot be eliminated through the regulatory process. A child of any age may perform any job, even hazardous work, at any age at any time on a farm owned by his or her parent. A child of any age whose parent operates a farm may also perform any task, even hazardous jobs, on that farm but only outside of school hours. So for children working on farms that are registered as LLCs, but operated solely by their parents, the parental exemption would still apply.


    The Department of Labor fully supports the important contributions both 4-H and the FFA make toward developing our children. The proposed rule would in no way prohibit a child from raising or caring for an animal in a non-employment situation — even if the animal were housed on a working farm — as long as he or she is not hired or “employed” to work with the animal. In such a situation, the child is not acting as an “employee” and is not governed by the child labor regulations. And there is nothing in the proposed rule that would prevent a child from being employed to work with animals other than in those specific situations identified in the proposal as particularly hazardous.

    Additionally, the new rules would not bar children from working on a farm at all, under current rules children as young as 12 are permitted to perform non-hazardous work and after 16 they are allowed to be employed without restriction. Current law even allows children under 12 to be employed to perform nonhazardous work on small farms with their parents permission. As the press release describes it, “The proposed rule would, however, prohibit the employment of workers under the age of 18 in nonagricultural occupations in the farm-product raw materials wholesale trade industries.

    1. Rachel says:

      Thank you to folks like Maranda and James, who have brought more clarity and honesty to this situation. It is disconcerting that people here would rather believe what they want to believe rather than perhaps having to change their intial opinions or reactions in light of being introduced to a fuller picture of what is really happening.

      I find it fascinating that those who have brought the most maturity and fact-based information into this discussion are the ones who have been “hidden” because of too many “dislikes.” Well, hide my comment as well and continue to live in the dark. Only when we can have mature, civil discourse about important issues, such as this one, will we ever know the truth.

      Why would we rather be against something than for something? We live in a world of a scarcity mentality, where complaining and blaming abounds. Just notice how this is apparent when you read the language and topics of many of the blog posts on this site. They are all against something–we cannot truly solve issues unless we find what it is we are FOR. Have hope, as we know the Kingdom of God is here and it is in our blessed hands to continue making Christ’s ministry a reality.

  4. Magdalene says:

    Totatlitarianism on the rise. Under communism a person did not get to pick what sort of work to do. We are headed that way on this and also on many life issues. The government is poised to say who lives and dies, who can be born, etc. This is no joke.

  5. someone says:

    Livestock auctions? Really? There are quite a few kids who proudly, OF THEIR OWN FREE WILL, raise cows. If they want to sell it at an auction, they can’t?! How mean! Also the farmers I know don’t let their young children up grain silos, and a 16 year old is old enough to handle it. Believe it or not, many kids want to work on a farm!

  6. stev says:

    And this is why children these days are lazy and rely on others to get things done for them. Our country is headed for the stockyard if stuff like this continues.

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