I just read an article on NPR about “Should Farm Kids Be Allowed To Drive A Tractor? Some Say It’s Too Dangerous.”
The gist of the article is about the US Department of Labor proposing a law that would bar anyone under 16 from doing dangerous farm jobs — which includes driving a tractor and handling pesticides. Excluded from the proposal is farm families who have their kids do farmwork, the families just would not be allowed to have other kids work for them. This is absurd!
This is all based around the fact that 104 children die a year due to farm-related accidents and more than 22,000 are injured. While tragic, those numbers aren’t qualified by how many are actually hurt/killed because they drove a tractor. While tragic, those numbers are pretty small also.
This move hurts rural America. This is blue-collared America being crapped on, yet again. How am I not surprised?
Farmwork can teach kids a lot. I know this firsthand. I grew up on a family run farm that operated 1,000+ acres. I grew up driving tractors. I grew up using farm equipment. Heck, I think I started using a riding lawnmower when I was able to weigh enough to keep the seat down. Many kids where I grew up help each other with farmwork. The same can be said all over the country.
The biggest thing behind “safety” isn’t creating laws to prevent accidents. It’s actually people teaching safety and it being enforced by the supervisors/parents. There is no reason why a law needs to be created for this. People have been doing farmwork since the earth began. Families have been helping each other with farmwork since the earth began. Accidents always happen, no matter where and what is taking place.
Parents need to be smarter. Supervisors need to be smarter. The kids need to be smarter — probably a lot of the accidents are caused because people are goofing off.
Laws like this only make expenses of farms go up. Those expenses rising only make their crops/products more expensive. So…looks like we’ll have more prices going up. That’s great though, there are sooooo many jobs available for people to pay for vegetables, fruit, grains, dairy products, and meat.
Farming is a quality way of life. More people should try it. More kids should have the opportunity to experience farming. There’s a lot of things that can be learned from farming and farmers.
There are no positives to this proposal. I do not support it. Please government, do something more worthwhile…like creating jobs instead of taking them away.