DOL (Department Opposed to Labor) Strikes Again

My son helping change water.

I received an email the other day from a friend…an email that at first I thought was a joke, a spoof, one of those emails that once you read part way down says something to the effect of “Gotcha! Things aren’t really as bad they seem.”

I read through the synopsis…waiting to come to the “Gotcha” part…it wasn’t there…this was a legitimate proposal by the Department of Labor.

I was dumfounded at first…then a state of disbelief…followed by a wave of legitimate anger.

How could anyone seriously propose these new regulations for agricultural employment of children?

What is even worse, is that it will negatively impact and make illegal, many of the routine activities considered by the department to be “work” that occur on a daily basis on all farms and ranches.

Implications spread far and wide and should be closely looked at by 4-H, FFA, Grange and other organizations that are so instrumental in training and teaching responsibility to children.

The proposed regulations would make it illegal to allow a child under the age of 16 to do all of the following:

  1. Herd animals on horseback;
  2. Sort animals on horseback;
  3. Operate any equipment;
  4. Operate any vehicle, tractor, feed truck, ATV;
  5. Operate any tool that is not powered by hand;
  6. The list goes on.

It is obvious that the “brilliant” folks we have in DC have absolutely no idea what impact this will have on multi-generational and extended family farms and ranches.

Throwing Hay To The Herd Bull

What does our government have against teaching children the value of family, responsibility and a strong work ethic?

These new regulations do not just apply to “paid” children, but also makes it “illegal” for children under the age of 16 to do any of these activities if they are done as “work” without pay.

That means my son can’t help his grandparents move cattle from field to field on horseback. It is illegal for my son to help his grandparents change water. It is illegal for my son to drive the feed truck for his grandfather in the winter. I could continue.

The proposed rule changes site that there were 12 farm related deaths of children from 1995 to 2001. While the loss of any child is a tragedy, we are talking an average of 2 deaths per year on the farm or ranch.

To put this in perspective, in California alone, in 2005, there were more than >100 homicides, >200 attempted homicides, >1500 aggravated assaults, >50 attacks on police officers, >1500 robberies, >150 shots into inhabited dwellings, >25 kidnappings, >20 rapes, >500 criminal threats and >100 carjackings…all by children and gang related.

Remind me what our countries priorities are again….

I am sorry, but this new proposed regulation is flat-out asinine.

There is a well written article on these proposed changes in the Michigan Farm News.

I encourage all who feel strongly about these new ridiculous proposed regulations ( DOL Proposed Rules 29 CFR Parts 570 and 579) to comment online at

  1. October 7, 2011 at 7:58 AM

    Asinine doesn’t even cover it.

    My Ag Ed students would not be able to work with our ALC cow herd for our State Fair display as well. They would like to take out the provisions for students under educational supervison to do those things as well.

    And don’t get me started on the reasons you listed above…


  2. October 7, 2011 at 9:39 AM

    I read the proposed rules with disbelief also … I remember as a kid helping around the ranch and many of those activities were what shaped my later work ethic … yet again another case of Washington bureaucrats knowing it better than those of us with boots on the ground. Time for the Occupy Washington movement to start!

  3. October 7, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    This is ridiculous. As often happens, it takes an incident or two by someone unethical to create a negative change for all. What brought this about, and how can the government impose this on all?

  4. October 8, 2011 at 9:33 AM

    This is just another shining example of how much society has changed in the last 50 or so years.I have two good friends who I buy hay from who are in their late 70’s. They got MARRIED when he was 20 and she was 15 (fifteen). Now in some states it is illegal to leave your kid at home alone for a couple of hours until they are 15. My own grandparents got married when they were 13 & 16 and raised five kids.

    Farm and ranch kids have more work ethics and a sense of responsibility than most adults. When you stop and think about it, many farm and ranch kids can operate several different kinds of machinery, weld, do basic plumbing and electrical work as well as some veterinary procedures by the time they are 16. This is probably twice as much as the average city dweller can do at thirty.

    We take it for granted that our kids are going to be responsible enough to go through their chores and work in a safe,, responsible manner. To a society that refuses to teach kids responsibility or work ethics until after college our way of life, and views on work ethics and responsibility are draconian at best, which is why we need to educate the public.

  5. October 8, 2011 at 7:24 PM

    These are the types of regulations that have created a full generation of people with no work ethic, unskilled, and dependent on the system. It is simply time to realize that WORK (blood, sweat, tears, injuries and even death) shaped this Country! We need protection from those who know nothing of real work – not the work itself!

  6. October 9, 2011 at 12:59 PM

    This topic keeps coming up it seems. I would take this off the farm too. How many times have we heard about a successful person who says they started out sweeping floors in a warehouse as a kid or other similar situations? Helping family out in the family business is a far cry from a century ago when kids were working full days in textile mills and factories. Great post!

  7. October 12, 2011 at 6:36 AM

    I’ve already written a comment to the DOL, and was pretty generous with the word “stupid”. I also suggested that they get their dead ends out from behind their desks and work on a dairy or ranch or fill in the blank for a year so that maybe they would know what they’re talking about. Yet another batch of crap that pleases no one but the author.


  8. Mike Fish
    October 18, 2011 at 8:28 PM

    This government needs to under stand and remember how this country was built ! My son loves the ranch and loves to drive the hay truck and his quad . How will the next generation feed this country if we don’t teach them . I gess we will be dependent on south America . We have already given to much of this country to foren country’s What happened to our conditional writes do we have any left? We will teach our son to work cows and manage the land the write way not the so called governments way !!!!

    • commonsenseagriculture
      October 23, 2011 at 8:34 PM

      I appreciate your posting your thoughts Mike. Thank you. Reliance upon foreign food is a frightening thought.

  9. B
    October 19, 2011 at 8:13 AM

    I’m not sure how to post on that site but I think that taking away a child’s chores is stupid. most children in the rural areas have chores that require them to help their family in producing a means of living for that family. it is grossly incompetent of the law makers to think that it will not impact more than just the children. this will impact the entire nation.

    • commonsenseagriculture
      October 23, 2011 at 8:30 PM

      Thank you for taking the time to post 🙂 I appreciate your thoughts.

  10. Shawnele
    October 19, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    I am totally with you – and I wrote in my comments lambasting the proposed rule – but I did want you to know that the proposed rule cites more deaths than 12. When I Googled farm-related deaths for children the number that kept surfacing was 300 per year. Just FYI.

    Thanks for the post. I had heard a rumor of this and meant to look into it and got distracted. A friend linked to your post on Facebook – and I appreciated the information!

    • commonsenseagriculture
      October 23, 2011 at 8:29 PM

      Thank you for commenting Shawnele. The numbers I cited came directly from the proposed regulation. Many of the sources online utilize data from UNICEF and are worldwide, not limited to the US; others are for North America.

  11. Monica
    October 19, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    What I would like to know is does the goverment even look at what these farm and ranch kids learn? I mean how many kids that come from a farm or ranch go out and shoot or rob somebody?, or how many ranch kids are in any kind of major trouble? Most of them are busy with chores and learning the ways of life while their counter parts are in trouble, killing people,or robbing people. Come on Goverment look at what you are proposing! It is bull[fecal material] and stupid.

    • commonsenseagriculture
      October 23, 2011 at 8:27 PM

      Thank you for posting Monica. It is frustrating trying to understand and make sense of many proposed regulations from both the Federal and State level. Commonsense in government is running on empty…in my humble opinion 😉

  12. Lois Herbst
    October 25, 2011 at 9:35 AM

    It was the men who were raised on farms who fought in World War II and were able to be resourceful in repairing equipment, working beyond human endurance levels, because most of people at start of war were living in rural America. Even those from cities were more capable because they were expected to do get paper routes, do chores in the home and neighborhood. They were not belonging to thug gangs and doing drugs and supported by the government.
    President Obama established a council to aide rural America. That means it is a plan to determine how we use land and water and probably dictated by a program from the United Nations ie Agenda 21.

  13. October 26, 2011 at 7:21 AM

    These rules are written by someone sitting behind a desk lacking in common sense! I would bet they have never stepped foot on a farm. They’re”protecting” the child. Protecting them from what? A lifestyle that raises kids to be responsible members of this great nation? Our children have been raised helping us with our custom harvesting business their entire life. They have learned life lessons by experience, not by sitting on the sideline watching and feeling entitled to what they have. They are, by far, ahead of their peers on maturity level and leave the house knowing what work is and what being part of a team is all about. Not only has our way of life taught them how to work, it has been a relationship builder. We have a very close family because of what we do for a living.

  14. Rene
    October 27, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    So, instead of allowing children to learn something positive & encouraging, we’re suppose to “harness” them on the farm/ranch while hundreds of thousands of children who are not on a farm/ ranch are allowed to bully, harass, maim, get hooked on drugs & alcohol & even kill ? Instead of teaching them responsibility, safety, & consequences for fear of them getting injured or worse on the farm, what exactly ARE they suppose to learn? Good grief, take God out of schools, take teaching out of parents hands… I’m not even going to ask what’s next. I already know I wouldn’t like the answer. Perhaps the one’s writing this stupid bill would rather we gave our children guns instead of a horse? Tell me which is more dangerous!!??

  15. November 16, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    This is a stupid assed idea that show’s us what a mess our Federal Government really is. If we don’t get some changes made and get rid of some of these idiots we will all be sorry some of these days.

  16. Michelle Hunter
    November 17, 2011 at 8:15 AM

    Again Another Crazy Law Trying To Be Written By Someone Whom Probably Hasn’t Even Worked Or Even Been On A Farm For That Matter. . .Absolutely, Ridiculous! Don’t They Realize These Farm Kids Have Been Around This and Doing This Most Of There Life. . . They Are Learning Skills, Values, And Morals -To Be Applied Later In Life. . . Better Then Sitting Inside And Playing Computer Games Or Getting Involved With The Gangs.

  17. John
    November 17, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    The Dept of Labor is misinformed and as a matter of fact they are mis-named. They are any but labor. One last push to do away with the remaining self-reliant way of life left in the USA. DOL please feel free to jump off a cliff.

  18. Friederike
    November 17, 2011 at 11:36 AM

    I’m raised on a farm and always had to help and look happily back to that time. Please don’t control us even more. Let us keep our freedom> We are people that have common sens.e

  19. November 17, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    I urge you all to contact your representatives!

  20. Karen
    November 18, 2011 at 6:07 AM

    This article is so true. My children have grown up working on our farm learning good work ethics, teamwork and how to saftly do all kinds of jobs. I have also hired their friends to help. Most of these kids were active in FFA but didn’t truly live on a farm and wanted to experience it. I believe it also taught them farming is interesting and fun but work where you recieve a lot of satisfaction.
    Would we rather our kids be sitting on the couch or in gangs? This just doesnt’ make sense!

  21. Karen
    November 18, 2011 at 6:14 AM

    Please EVERYONE that posted here and get this info out to all Ag teachers and 4-H leaders to please comment:
    So, we need the ag community to stand up and make comments on the DOL law. The deadline is coming up fast – Dec. 1. You can make comments by going to this search on Regulations.Gov. Scroll down and the DOL Child Labor Rule will be the first in teh search results.

  22. Lacey
    November 21, 2011 at 5:36 PM

    Instead of our children learning something usefull and what “hard work” means, they want them to learn to sit on the couch and play video games and become obese… This is very dumb ! 90% of this country’s farmers and ranches are hard working individuals. They didn’t learn this over night or at the age of 25. They learned this as a child. People who don’t know what they are talking about should keep their nose out of it ! I’d like them to come work a day on our ranch and see how much my nine year old son out works and out rides them on a horse driving cattle. I’d like to see them learn how to do all that at their age and watch how the people that have done all of this as a child compete. This is how a lot of people learn to live an honest life full of respect and hard work. Try and think of it as a parent’s choice on how to raise their child, not your’s !!!

  23. November 22, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    The value of what I learned following my father and grandfather around our cattle ranch was priceless in regards to learning how to handle livestock correctly and safely for their benefit and mine. It is the same as a child growing up in a city and learning how to cross the right street, watching traffic lights, and which neighborhood is safe. How can you direct it towards rural america when the labor issue is so out there anyway. Are we supposed to hire all the illegals that are continuing to cross our borders unrestricted? Which by the way are on food stamps and government programs anyway so why should they apply for a real job? America, wake up, this is just another step of the animal rights and liberal dictators at work to squash our way of life. Our way of life made it possible for this country to excel and feed the masses for many generations. Do we thus expect the government to force our children into their own school of hard knocks? I doubt it. It would scar our future agriculture to the core.

  24. Wendi
    November 22, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    And what makes a 16 year old more “cognitavly able” to drive a motorized vehicle down a 4 lane highway at speeds up to 75mph than to herd a cow on horseback?

    A shame this is what our government is working so hard on. spread the word…this nonsense needs to be stopped.

  25. Kim
    November 28, 2011 at 9:30 AM

    My kids are 6 and 8. We own farm and domestic animals and my kids love to help with chores. They not only enjoy helping, but I feel that it is teaching them to be responsible. I don’t ever make or let them do anything that is more than they can handle and they are never in danger. I am very causious and very safe. I don’t see any harm in letting my kids help feed and water our animals. I do the hard part. I do all the dirty, heavy, back breaking stuff, not them.

  26. Buddy
    November 30, 2011 at 6:58 AM

    As a youth that grew up in farming home I believe there is nothing wrong with having your kids learn hard work early in life. It give them a great understanding of life after school. Some kid’s that don’t get this chance struggle to hold jobs because of their work ethics.

  27. November 30, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    Kids can get hurt on the monkey bars at school and that is not even a learning experience. Kids that grow up working on farms and/or ranches are the luckiest kids. They usually love the work, they learn from it, and they have wonderful memories.

  1. October 27, 2011 at 2:14 PM
  2. November 16, 2011 at 4:16 AM

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