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Saturday, Mar. 28, 2015

Is Fifteen Too Young to Herd Sheep? Catch a Hen?

Monday, November 28, 2011

This could be called a "Big Brother -- Nanny State" column. Smoking is legal. I no longer do it and wish, for their health and mine, that others didn't, but it remains legal. Some governments and societies, without the kahones to make it illegal, seem inclined to cut smokers tobacco stained fingers off one little piece at a time. The latest? The British Medical Association has called a smoking ban in all cars.

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Is the age of apprenticeships completely gone? The Iowa Farm Bureau, along with several politicians, has raised a stink about potential federal rules affecting farms. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is proposing changes to child labor rules that apply to young hired workers on farms. Producers, Voc-Ag teachers and others are protesting the highly controversial proposal.

A Wisconsin farm publication, Agri-View, in commenting on the proposed rules says, "Family farms are renowned for growing competent kids. Adults who grew up on a farm still enjoy an advantage in the job market, thanks to a reputation that they "know how to work." I couldn't agree more, although "city" kids may become proficient in other ways that will serve them well in adult life.

Agri-View also said, "Although few in agriculture would dispute that a farm is a great place to raise kids, it can also be a dangerous place-and sometimes even deadly." Iowa based Farm Safety for Just Kids agrees and has done a great deal to educate farmers and kids.

Although the proposed rules would not apply to those working for their parents on their own farms, they would "preclude hiring most 14 and 15-year-olds for the types of jobs most useful to farmers," Dennis Murphy, a Penn State University farm safety specialist has been quoted as saying.

Murphy points out that the required training for a 14 or 15-year-olds to operate a tractor and field equipment will "most likely be prohibitive for most vocational agricultural programs, where the training must take place." The traditional safe tractor and machinery operation certification program offered by Extension will no longer be accepted.

"While the need for safe tractor and machinery certification programs remains (especially for on-farm kids), the incentive for Cooperative Extension to offer such programs will be gone," he surmises. "The unintended consequence may be that many youth will receive less exposure to formal safe tractor and machinery operation. These changes will demand that farmers take on more responsibilities when it comes to teaching safety to young workers."

The proposed rules will not apply to children who work for their parents (or a relative who acts in place of the parent) on a farm owned or operated by that parent.

The proposed rules will apply to hired farm workers under 16 who aren't the children of the farm owner or operator; Even more-prohibitive rules will apply to younger kids.

Hired farm workers under age of 16 would be banned from operating or tending any power-driving equipment. Currently, 14 and 15-year-olds can operate tractors and other equipment after certain safety courses. However, it's now proposed they shouldn't operate tractors and other power-driven machinery - even equipment powered by horses! An exception would be made for student learners who have completed 90 hours of ag education offered by a state or local educational authority, or a similar program conducted by a private school.

The proposed rules would also prohibit young hired farm workers from riding as passengers on any power-driving machinery being moved on a public road, with exceptions.

It also includes setting up, adjusting, repairing, oiling or cleaning a machine, as well as placing materials into or removing them from the machine, to name just a few restrictions.

Another proposal that seems to me to really over reach would prohibit a younger than 16 year old hired farm worker from working in areas occupied by male horses, pigs, cattle or bison older than six months which have not been castrated; a sow with suckling pigs or a cow with a newborn calf (umbilical present); engaging or assisting in animal husbandry practices; handling animals with known dangerous behaviors; poultry catching or cooping in preparation for slaughter or market; and herding animals in confined spaces such as feed lots or corrals, or on horseback, or using motorized vehicles such as trucks or ATVs.

Sixteen and 17-year-olds could not work for hire in, grain elevators and terminals, grain bins, silos, feed lots and feed yards, stockyards and livestock exchanges.

Even though EPA spokesmen have denied that it is in the works, The potential regulation of dust on farms has raised hackles for several years. I hope they don't "throw the baby out with the bath water."

Don Paulin, 2carpenterdon@gmail.com, 7557 30th Av, Norwalk, IA 50211 - 515-201-7236 -30-

By Don Paulin
Been There, Done That