The following comments are how I feel about the proposed rules from the Department of Labor (they’re also the comments I sent to the DOL.) I know that my cousins and younger brothers come to work at the calf ranch every summer, and only 1 of my brothers would be old enough to do that under these proposed rules. We’ve all learned extremely valuable lessons while working out here at the ranch. We’ve made friends and we’ve learned pieces of a new language. I don’t know if me telling you that farm work is valuable, will do it justice. Maybe you should visit a farm and experience it yourself. (Good idea, huh? :))
The public comments period got pushed back to December 1, 2011 instead of November. SO if after you read my comment and feel so moved as to let the DOL know how these proposed rules will affect your family or your friend’s family or any farmer in general, you still have time!
Tell me what you think of my response to the DOL. Do you think that the proposed rules are a good idea for our youth? Why? Or do you think they need to be altered a bit? How so?
October 31, 2011
To Whom It May Concern:
As a family business, the new proposed rules would greatly affect not only our business, but many agricultural businesses across the country, just like ours. I do appreciate the Department of Labor for trying to protect the children of this country. However in this case, the DOL will be doing more to hurt than to help. Farms have been a family tradition since the beginning. A father starts a farm and has three sons, who then start their own farms next to their father’s farm. Those sons have children. Family farms today are multi-generational. The basis of a farm is everyone helping everyone – that is the nature of agriculture. Our nation wants to preserve the family farm because they are scared of giant agricultural businesses taking over, but if these rules come to be, then the family farm has no hope of survival.
In addition to the previously mentioned, our ranch looks at the opportunity for youth to work here during their summer vacation months as a mentorship. Imagine a fifteen year old boy working alongside of his father or older cousins and uncles. Instead of meddling with drugs, playing video games all day or spending time with negative influences, he has the opportunity to learn life from respectable older examples. The youth of America need more positive relationships and opportunities like this. Why try to take that from them?
I would also like to point out that the largest number of farm-related deaths is in the age range of 16-19 years old, which is not even the age range which the Department of Labor is seeking to protect. In addition to this, the majority of farm deaths, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, 79% of farm injuries among children and adolescents were not due to farm work. Only 21% of farm injuries were related to work on the farm, but the other 79% were related to play on the farm.
It is true that jobs related to agriculture are more dangerous than a job where someone is sitting in an office all day. However, working on a farm also instills in people a lot of very valuable qualities. I surveyed a few people who worked on farms at some point in their lives to find out what they felt they learned from working on a farm and a few of the responses that I received were patience, ingenuity, responsibility, respect, perseverance, teamwork, work ethic, value, empathy and life lessons. Work related to agriculture may not be easy, but there is a great deal of value to the hard work required from working in agriculture.
So on behalf of my family’s ranch and other agricultural businesses across this nation, I ask you to please reconsider your proposed rules. I ask you to go back and look into farm-related injuries and deaths, but be sure that your information is coming from a first-party source and not a second or third. Visit farms and farming communities, but do not get your information from website statistics. Please do not take such a positive, enriching learning experience away from the children of our country. And please do not force us to take “family” out of our family farms.