It was a huge relief to local FFA educators and family farmers in late April when the U.S. Department of Labor withdrew a proposed rule restricting children under the age of 16 from working in agriculture vocations.
“It’s a good victory for those of us in rural America and for the local Ag programs and for the youth of America,” said Larin Crossley, Preston High Ag instructor.
“Like a lot of things it was motivated by good intentions, but like a lot of things it started to steamroll. It would have been hard for a lot of farm families to utilize their children on the farm and allow them to work around animals. Of course, you never want children injured or hurt and agriculture by nature can be a dangerous occupation.”
Crossley said in his time in Ag Education there have been many farm safety programs offered to educate youth and parents to keep things as safe as possible.
“I don’t think there has been an increase in farm accidents. Most parents and farmers who employ young people are conscientious about the type of equipment these kids are asked to run. First, they don’t want them hurt and secondly the equipment is expensive so you don’t want someone operating it that isn’t able to take proper care of it.
“So it’s mostly using common sense and what’s best for your child or your student or your employee.”
Crossley said he emphasizes in his courses that sometimes accidents happen when we are in a hurry or we are tired or we’re just not thinking things through clearly.
The Obama Administration said the decision to withdraw the rule was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect the rules would have on small, family-owned farms.