Family Owned Farms Threatened by Proposed Child Labor Laws

By: Bergen Baucom Email
By: Bergen Baucom Email

Agriculture is a key industry in the Panhandle area. But, the Department of Labor's attempt to to change parts of the child labor law could threaten the future of family owned farms.

Generation's of farmers have learned how to work the field by learning it as a child. But, if the Department of Labor's proposed changes occur, no person under the age of 16 would be allowed to operate machinery or handle most livestock. Machinery could be mean anything from riding a tractor to using a weed-eater.

This was in response to recent farming accidents that claimed the lives of several teenagers. And as imagined, this news was not popular down on the farm.

"I've been working on the farm since I could walk" said David Defelix, owner and operator of Felix Farms. "I started operating tractors and machinery since I was ten. It's not something you just walk out of a classroom and decide to do" he said.

Farmers said they were using their kids on the farm just for free labor. They said the future of family farms depended on their kids learning how to be farmers. They also said that in many cases it's safer than hiring an adult to do the job.

"I would trust child that's been trained responsibly over an inexperienced adult... Without training farmers young to come up and take over the business, who's gonna grow our food in the future" Defelix asked.

As of Thursday, the Labor Department held hearings on the matter and is said to release the new regulations in June. If approved, the plan would also revoke Government approval of safety training and certification courses for young people offered through organizations such as Future Farmers of America and the 4H club.


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  • by Half Location: Loaf on May 1, 2012 at 06:11 AM
    Good job not reporting that the rules do not apply to farms owned by the child's parents. Also great job not reporting that child working on farms are four times more likely to get killed then a child working on another job.
  • by CityKid Location: PC on Apr 28, 2012 at 08:45 AM
    Farm kids aren't like city kids. Take them off the tractor and they won't be indoors watching TV or playing video games. No, they'll be out hunting or 4-wheeling or something even more dangerous. If the gov't really wants to keep farm kids safe, let them farm, be productive and self-reliant. Wouldn't it be better if all kids had this opportunity!
  • by Patricia Location: Jackson Co. on Apr 27, 2012 at 05:32 PM
    As a teacher I find that my best students are farmer's children who work their farms. They are polite and attentive with a strong work ethic in the classroom. Parents care most for their safety and I wish more of my students worked on farms.
  • by Nancy Location: Panama City on Apr 27, 2012 at 03:07 PM
    I grew up in a small town. My Uncle had a farm and I LOVED to go there. I could gather eggs, feed the animals, help milk the cows, and topped the tobacco, even hoed weeds in the garden and rode on the hay wagon out to the fields. The Government is holding our kids back. Book learning is great, but SOMEONE has to grow the food and build the buidings we live and work in. The kids today are not learning the things that we need to SURVIVE when there are NO computers to tell you what to do.
  • by Russ Location: Panama City on Apr 27, 2012 at 01:11 PM
    There's always the opportunity to VOTE
  • by Vickie Location: Panama City on Apr 27, 2012 at 12:10 PM
    Farmers don't want corrupt idiots and morons as our government, neither, but that's what we get stuck with because that's all we have to choose from.
  • by Dave Location: pcb on Apr 27, 2012 at 10:04 AM
    Child Labor! I thought we setteled that along with gun control,immergration abortion etc. a good time back. Just another strawman from the right.
    • reply
      by Brian on Apr 28, 2012 at 04:10 AM in reply to Dave
      Sounds like someone has their head in the sand and thinks everything is a right-wing plot.
  • by Marti Location: Calhoun County on Apr 27, 2012 at 09:43 AM
    I would like to hear comments from the Ag Commissioner on this. At first glance, this does NOT seem to be a wise path to take.
  • by Brian Location: Panama City on Apr 27, 2012 at 06:22 AM
    Heaven forbid families get to decide what is best for their own children. Heaven forbid that children are taught discipline and work ethics. Heaven forbid that moms and dads have a say in how their children are raised. Thank God we have a government that protects us from ourselves. Thank God our government uses our own tax money to regulate and enslave us to death. Thank God we have liberals in authority who are so much smarter than we are and help us live our lives. We'd die without government...at least, that's what they're telling us.
  • by Annalisa Location: Panama City on Apr 27, 2012 at 05:17 AM
    And they wonder why the new generations are lazy,jobless,& plain lost.We cant do anything with our kids like in the days.I think if we were to teacht he kids just like back in the days,maybe crime would not be so much,kids would go out there and just do things and not be scared, & kids would know more common sense cause its taught when they are very little! The only people making the generations worse are the people who want all the control!
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