We all know that 4-H and FFA are fantastic outlets to get involved with agriculture at a young age, develop skills and find our passions. But most of us developed our interests for 4-H and FFA long before we memorized the creed or participated at our first state fair.
I, along with several hundreds of thousands of young people in the U.S., grew up helping my family on the ranch. Feeding horses, filling water troughs, grooming animals - these tasks were all a daily aspect of my life and through those chores I learned responsibility, discipline and developed my love of the land and animals.
As many of you are aware, the U.S. Department of Labor is trying to pass a law that would prevent children under 18 from participating in or completing the following activities on a farm:
Paid workers age 15 and younger would be barred from operating tractors, combines, ATVs and almost all power-driven equipment, unless they obtain special certification.
Youths under the age of 18 would not be allowed to work at grain elevators, silos, feed lots, livestock auctions or in the transporting of raw farm materials.
Tobacco fields would be off-limits to workers under age 16 due to concerns about a problem called green-tobacco sickness, caused by the exposure to nicotine.
Children in both agricultural and non-farm work would be restricted from using personal electronic devices, including walkie-talkies, while operating equipment.
Anyone who has ever been on a farm knows that parents' #1 priority is safety for their children around livestock and machinery. This law would not only cripple the ability of children to get involved in agriculture at an early age but would also cause difficulty to those families who depend on teenagers to help haul hay, run the combines etc to get their work done on time.
There was a comment period for this legislation but unfortunately, it expired on Dec 31, 2011. However, Kansas Senator Jerry Moran (R), is collecting comments to continue to capture the ag community's concern with this issue. Voice and opinion is critical if we are going to stop this action.