Proposed "Child Labor" Rules Could Short-Change Kids

“Proposed Child Labor Rules Could Cut Kids’ Experiences Short” reads the headline on a recent news article and pretty much sums up farmers’ concerns over proposed changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Ty Walter, a 19-year-old cattle producer, received the National FFA Proficiency Award in Beef Production-Entrepreneurship during the 2011 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.  He built a herd of 70 cattle from one heifer that he was given for his first birthday.  Yes, he’s been working with livestock practically since he could walk and believes, in doing so, he’s learned many valuable lessons.

Likewise, other farm families believe caring for livestock helps children develop a strong work ethic that they carry into their adult lives.  It’s no wonder that “farm kids” are sought after in the workforce.

“We want our children to be able to experience caring for our animals in the future,” says Nancy Grossi, The Wife of a Dairyman.  “We believe, and my husband experienced growing up on our dairy farm, that learning to feed and care for our dairy cows gives kids a head start on work ethic.  If a pre-teen or teenager learns work ethic at a young age, he or she will be more likely to continue to have good work ethic as an adult.  Helping to care for animals and working on our farm will help our kids build character and responsibility.”

Both of the Grossi kids are involved in the 4-H organization.  When they reach the age of nine, they will be able to show large animals in the county fairs – and they’re already looking forward to it.  Part of showing animals through both the 4-H and FFA organizations is learning how to properly care for your animals, yourself.

“If the proposed labor law goes into effect, it would impact thousands of kids,” adds The Wife of a Dairyman. “They will not be allowed to care for their own animals and this would be a tragedy, not only to the kids but also to the future of our country.  Learning these skills, at a young age, is necessary to instill the foundation of agricultural knowledge to be able to feed our nation in the future.”

How has growing up on a farm – or the 4-H and FFA organizations – helped provide you with valuable life-long lessons?  Please take the time to share your experiences and your concerns with the U.S. Department of Labor.  Click here to submit your comments online.

To submit written comments, reference RIN 1235-AA06 in your letter and mail it to:

The Wage and Hour Division
U.S. Department of Labor, Room S-3502
200 Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20210