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Keep feds away by being safe on the farm

July 12, 2012
Gary Andersen, Lee Smith , Fairmont Sentinel

Here in farm country, as elsewhere across the nation, people have their traditions. And they don't like Uncle Sam sticking his nose in where it doesn't belong. This is what led to the demise of proposed Labor Department rules that would have limited the paid jobs youngsters could do on neighbors' and relatives' farms. The Labor Department does not believe children younger than 16 should be operating tractors, etc. But backlash from within the farming community was enough to kill the proposal. The Obama administration says it will no longer try to implement the new rules.

And, so, with the federal government out of the way, it seems an appropriate moment to remind all of those who own farms and who work on them to be more careful. There is a reason the feds are looking out across the nation's midsection with concern: Children performing farm work are four times more likely to be killed than those employed in all other industries combined. The knee-jerk reaction of the perpetual worriers is:?There ought to be a law. No, there ought to be more education and training for those using farm machinery and those spending time around other hazards related to agriculture.

Clearly, young people are capable of working on farms. They have been doing so for generations. We would hate to think of them losing this job experience and way to make money. And we would hate to think of families being unable to work together for a common goal, something at the heart of the family farm experience. Again, we hope everyone involved in agriculture redoubles their efforts to ensure better farm safety. Doing so boosts our traditions and keeps the feds at bay.



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