April 25 2012

Government Lays An Egg: DOL Plans To Regulate Kids' Chores On The Family Farm

Charlotte Hays

One of the ways children build character and learn the work ethic is by doing chores.

So thank heavens the Obama administration is going to crack down on this. It seems that the Department of Labor is putting forward regulations that would make it illegal for farm children to do certain tasks on the family farm. The regs basically extend child-labor laws to family farms. 'Bout time.  

And the 4-H Club to which so many of my friends growing up in rural Mississippi belonged? It will no longer be able to conduct safety training under the proposed regulations. A 90-hour government-run training program will replace the one formerly offered by 4-H.

Thank heavens! I never knew a friend to be injured at 4-H (and believe me, one of my dearest friends to this day consistently won the first prize for his handsome pigs), but it’s never too soon to put a stop to things like this.

Unfortunately, the Daily Caller reports, ingrate farm children Just Don’t Get It:

Rossie Blinson, a 21-year-old college student from Buis Creek, N.C., told The Daily Caller that the federal government’s plan will do far more harm than good.

“The main concern I have is that it would prevent kids from doing 4-H and FFA projects if they’re not at their parents’ house,” said Blinson.

“I started showing sheep when I was four years old. I started with cattle around 8. It’s been very important. I learned a lot of responsibility being a farm kid.”

Also deeply unappreciative of the DOL’s intervention is Kansas, Cherokee County Farm Bureau president Jeff Clark:

“What would be more of a blow,” he said, “is not teaching our kids the values of working on a farm.”

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the average age of the American farmer is now over 50.

“Losing that work-ethic — it’s so hard to pick this up later in life,” Clark said. “There’s other ways to learn how to farm, but it’s so hard. You can learn so much more working on the farm when you’re 12, 13, 14 years old.”

And then there’s this insensitive young agriculture major who worked on the family farm:

“The work ethic is a huge part of it. It gave me a lot of direction and opportunity in my life. If they do this it will prevent a lot of interest in agriculture. It’s harder to get a 16 year-old interested in farming than a 12 year old.”

Certainly these DOL regulations are long overdue. Decisions about chores cannot be left to mere parents. And besides, these kids should be preparing to grow up and ender some respectable profession. They could aim to be--say--government bureaucrats. I’m told that developing a work ethic isn't key to landing and holding onto some of these slots.

At any rate, I applaud the Obama administration. A less transformative one might have overlooked the regulation of kids' chores.

Hat tip to Mollie Hemingway

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