Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Federal rewrite of labor laws causing a flap down on the farm
Sparking outrage across the country’s rural heartland, the Obama administration is proposing rules to curb the ability of children on farms to engage in “corn sex” for pay. Farmers call it corn detasseling, a time-honored but physically demanding chore designed to promote cross-pollination in the field. For decades it has been a way for teens to earn extra spending money — and forge some good-natured field hand camaraderie — for a few weeks each summer. The Obama administration is considering revisions to federal agricultural work rules that effectively would bar teens younger than 16 from engaging in a number of traditional chores for pay — including detasseling. Opponents of the rules across the Farm Belt argue that they are in part an attack on a way of life, one foreign to Beltway bureaucrats and one that should be encouraged in an era of rising childhood obesity rates and increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Rule critics were bolstered last week by farm groups and detasseling companies gathering at state capitols to urge lawmakers to intervene with the Labor Department. The department is reviewing those laws, which also would cover work with bulls, cows and other farm animals and farm machinery, at the urging of groups such as the Child Labor Coalition and the National Safety Council. According to a Labor Department statement: “Children employed in agriculture are some of the most vulnerable workers in America. The fatality rate for young agricultural workers is four times greater than that of their peers employed in nonagricultural workplaces.” The rules would not affect children working on their parents’ farms, but could affect minors who want to work for relatives or hire themselves out for temporary work during the summer. The Labor Department proposal would restrict the range of chores children could do for pay, including driving tractors, branding cattle, working above a certain height and herding livestock on horseback...more