was seven when my Dad put me on the seat of an Oliver 77 tractor and sent me to the field to rake hay by myself. My Dad said he was about the same age when his father first assigned him to a pair of horses and a mower to cut hay on his own. My mom was just five when her dad took her to the barn to hand milk cows. When Claudia and I had our own four children, they all helped out on our dairy farm at pretty young ages, too.
To those unfamiliar with life on a farm, this might seem inappropriate, dangerous, or even abusive. It’s not. It is a way of life that has existed for as long as there have been farms and families. In many cases it was necessary to support the survival of the family. That was the case for my parents who were farm kids during the Great Depression. Family work on a farm or ranch is also a way of life that instills values and principles that seem to be increasingly more difficult to pass from one generation to the next in today’s America.
Yes, sometimes the work is dangerous and accidents do happen. They can be serious, even fatal. But, the rewards of the culture of the family farm have long been believed to far outweigh the risks, and government historically left parenting and farm family life alone. That’s about to change.
The Obama Administration is proposing to use the force of federal law to usurp the judgment of farm parents and replace it with government regulations. Led by big labor, union advocate Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor, the Administration is proposing a sweeping set of new rules that would do the following: