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Jim Meade / Iowa City
Senior Advisor

Limits on kids working

The Department of Labor is seekling public comment up until 1 November on a proposal that would severely restrict the work that people under 16 and 18 (depends on category) could do on the farm.  In some cases, they could only work on a farm owned by their parents (this does not include a corporation owned by their parents).

Your 17 year old could not go run a grain wagon for your brother (his uncle).  Your 17 year old daughter could not drive a pickup to the field to take parts to her grandfather unless she lived on his farm.  Under 16, no herding livestock or haying.  Can't drive or even rid in farm equipment on a public road.  Couldn't use a block and tackle.  Couldn't cut and stack lumber for the lady next door. This is from a Farm Bureau article.

we may say that we'd ignore these rules if we didn't like them, but the rub comes if there is a dispute, an injury or such.  If your grandson is injured working on your farm, you may be accused of child abuse or neglect.  You might be held liable if your niece hurts herself driving you ATV bringing you a sandwich.  on hour farm.

Here are some news references:

http://www.vindy.com/news/2011/sep/29/rules-for-farm-kids/?newswatch

http://westernfarmpress.com/government/new-labor-rules-target-young-farm-workers

 Is tightening up child labor laws a benefit to your farm and family or an unneeded and unwarranted intrusion in how your children and you work on the farm?

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10 Replies
SpringBrookFarm
Veteran Contributor

Re: Limits on kids working

In my experience its not so much age that causes the problems, though you can get to a certain point where they simply are to young. 

 

Alot of farm accidents are caused by bad desicions, due to lack of experience, not nessesarliy tied to age. A 33 year old that has never been on a farm before has the same mental capacity and knowledge as a 15 year if not less. Alot has to do with how the parent or employer treat the youngster or employee. Do they take time to properly train them on all equipment, make them read the operators manual, then use that piece of equipment at a slow speed or rate with lots of supervision untill they have proven they can handle it in a safe manor.

 

Having the youngsters take a farm training course is definitly a plus. I think miniumum age for that is 15. Thats when i took it if i remember back right. 

 

The differences you run in to is a 33 year on a four wheeler, even if never have driven one before should be able to control him or herself from driving to fast where as a youngster tend to be more reckless. Again though ive seen some pretty irresponsible adults.

 

I really dont see a decrease in total accidents, just a rise in the average age of accidents, being that if they increase the age then younger ones wont be allowed to work.

 

This reminds me of them wanting to increase the age to recieve a drivers license from 16 to 18. What worried me with that was the fact that instead of 18 year old graduating from high school and going off to work or college with two years of driving experience in a place that they were familiar with, they would be getting a drivers license and then heading off to strange places with hardly any experience at all.

 

Again i think it all comes down to experience. Instead of spending money on enforceing more restrictions that impede our daily lives, they should take that money and use it to educate.

 

In Life *@# happens, accidents are going to happen no matter what we try to do. Not everyting that bad happens requires a call to action.

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Nebrfarmr
Veteran Advisor

Re: Limits on kids working

To me, it sounds like the government trying to find a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

I really don't see all those accidents around here, involving farm kids, that needs to be addressed.

Yes, there are kids that are killed in 'farm accidents'

But there are also kids that are killed in 'non-farm' accidents, as well.  When I went to school, I'd say about half the kids were being raised on a farm, and about half were raised in town.  By the time I graduated high school, I knew one girl who died of Lukemia, one guy who died of AIDS (was a hemopheliac, and got a bad blood transfusion), one that died in a car crash, and one that is in a wheelchair from a sports injury.  No farm kids I knew personally died, or were even crippled in a farm accident.

What a lot of non-farm people see is a 'youngster' driving what could be dangerous machinery.  What they don't see is all the instruction that Dad, Grandpa, or Uncle Bob had given them, on how to safely operate the machines.   
Take ATVs, for instance.  I had to drive countless miles with one of my older brothers, an uncle, or parent riding with me, ready to grab the bars, before I was allowed to go 'solo'.  Also, any reckless driving I did got me 'bicycle privliges' for a week.   However, the town people I know with ATVs, tend to drive them only once in a while in the summer, and will let Junior 'drive that ATV thingy around for a while' unsupervised, and they tend to get into more trouble, quicker, than the farm kids.

How many of us have driven the pickup 'through the gate' when we were well under 16?  Would this be technically illegal, as well. 
I know a lot of people would just ignore the law, so what good does it do to have a law that most people won't obey, and that will be largely un-inforcable?  It just breeds contempt for the law.  Have as few laws as necessary, keep them simple, and enforcable.

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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: Limits on kids working

Voluntary safety programs are an excellent resource...Farm Safety 4Just Kids comes immeidately to mind. 

 

Personally, I know I was put at risk a lot of times working as a kid and teenager, but only got seriously hurt once.   I think that scared my father enough to slow his ideas of what children should do down a bit...but not much!

 

I really think that the state has no business in this...farm kids will end up as trifling and useless as city ones, if this passes.  Families should have a clue as to how to engage theri children in farm work. 

 

Tell the yuppies who have moved to the country  that their kids won't be able to handle the family's pet goats...they will handle it in the legislature for you. 

 

 

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rawhide
Advisor

Re: Limits on kids working

no farmer i know would purposely put their kids in a dangerous situation. the govt. is coming after us folks. personally i would rather have a 16 year old farm kid coming at me on a two lane highway than an 85 year old with no reflexes.

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sw363535
Honored Advisor

Re: Limits on kids working

The labor dept does what organized labor says. Those farm kids are doing jobs American workers could be doing......tongue in cheek.
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nwobcw
Advisor

Re: Limits on kids working

   I agree with all the above and I'd like to add my 2 cents worth.  I started hauling wagons home from the field down the lane at age 11.  On the road to the elevator 2 miles at age 12, driving Dad's pickup helping move to a field down the road at 13.  Combining at age  15 myself with Grampa at the end watching "just in case".  My kids pulled wagons behind the pickup to the elevator from 16 on with me making a dry run with them before harvest.  It's all in how you teach them.  From them using tractors they all can drive a stick shift car, something few 20 somethings can do nowadays.  In fact the oldest 2 had/ have a manual tranny vehicle.

   I felt safe with them around because they did what I told them.  Presently I have an early 50's guy helping me.  I guess he thinks at his age he should know things although he was a city boy till he married a farm girl out here.  He does things on his own that make no sense, like unhooking wagons from a tractor after pulling them in the driveway when they will be used the next day.  Little things that make no sense.   Suggesting trying to combne beans 4 days after 4" of rain.   Afterall, there's no standing water.  LOL

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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: Limits on kids working

I have always observed and felt that farm kid's, by virtue of learning how vehicles and equipment move, by moving them around on the land, have usually been better drivers when they get their permits and licenses. My kid's started driving their PaPa's little Luv pickup in the lane from their busstop in kindergarten...they are all good drivers.
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suey1973
Senior Contributor

Re: Limits on kids working

I believe this is being pushed by 2 things.   One,  the immigrants who pull their young children out of school to do work in fields and orchards.    Two,  the  accident this summer where 2 14 year olds were electrocuted detassling a corn field.    If they had been 18  there wouldn't be quite the outrage.   If 18 year olds had been walking where these 2 14 year olds were walking the 18 year old would have been dead.   By the way I know of no official ruling of what caused the electricty to be in the corn/puddle/ ground. 

 

I think part of the reason we are no longer farrowing sows is because we can't find kids/16 year olds willing to come out and get smelly, and dirty.    Younger kids might be willing but they aren't big enough to physically do the job.  Plus,  there are already a large variety of jobs kids under 16 can't do on a farm.    Guess it is time for livestock farmers to start having larger families. 

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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: Limits on kids working

Suey, you are totally right that this type of accident serves as  the rationale for such legal ramifications.

 

As a former school board member, you probably recall when all the school buses older than a certain vintage ahd to be phased out, due to one really bad crash that showed flaws in design.  No telling how much that cost every school district in the nation...and the bus that wrecked was actually not in use by a school when it was crashed. 

 

I am all for safety, but no situation is totally safe.  I know what you mean about younger kids wanting to work...but, I think some of that is because they can't, and want some independent money to spend, save for a car when they turn 16, etc.  A lot of people of all ages want a paycheck, but not to do what it takes to earn one.. 

 

 

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