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By Staff | Jan 6, 2012

The Obama administration just can’t leave good enough alone. It’s going to cost them politically. By fixing things that are not broken, meddling into people’s lives where government is not needed, they validate every political charge that big government is being too intrusive and needs to have its wings clipped.

One of the first rumors floated after President Obama took office was that the government was going to tax cow flatulence because of the methane contribution to Green House Gas emissions.

I don’t think that taxing cow flatulence rose higher than the joke of the week, but a lot of folks in the country took the threat seriously from an administration they did not trust.

The next rumor going around was that the EPA was going to regulate the dust from combines making it so you could not combine soybeans on a windy day. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley brought the EPA administrator out to Iowa to make sure that they were not seriously considering this to give them a taste of the political response that they would get if they truly attempted to regulate farm dust.

The EPA put whatever gear they were in toward regulating farm dust in reverse and backed out the driveway.

Most don’t think that the EPA will stay away. The election in Iowa is going to be close and Iowa has been listed as one of 7 must-win states for the President. The election will be close enough that issues like taxing cow flatulence and regulating farm dust could make the difference.

While the EPA appeared to get the message sent from rural America to back off, the Labor Department failed to get the email or get the memo. It decided that rural parents are not smart enough, or do not care enough about their kids to keep them safe on farms and that Washington, where they can’t agree if next Tuesday is next Tuesday, should step in with authority and ban kids from working on farms.

The U.S. Labor Department wrote new child labor rules that kids under 16 can’t work on farms. They can’t drive a tractor, or skid loader, they can’t detassel corn, or even take care of 4-H projects under some circumstances. They must think kids are better off playing video games.

The proposed rule update included:

  • Prohibiting hired farm workers under age 16 from operating almost all power-driven equipment.
  • Preventing children under 18 years of age from being employed in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm-product raw materials.
  • Prohibited places of employment would include country grain elevators, grain bins, solos, feedlots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions.”

Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, called the labor department proposals, “probably the most idiotic legislation that has come along in a long time.”

Actually, Bob is wrong. This is not legislation. This was not in a bill passed by Congress. This came from bureaucrats, acting upon authority they decided was long buried in existing labor laws, to dig up a new set of rules on their own.

I don’t believe that were the newly proposed farm child labor rules actually proposed as legislation, that it would pass.

A lot of people in agriculture, including yours truly, sees this as an insult to our rights and intelligence. I worked for a seed company as a kid in research plots, my wife detasseled, we both drove tractors, baled hay, worked with livestock and so on and so on.

My kids drove tractors before they were 16. My banker’s kids have 4-H cattle out on a farm. I don’t think any of that would be legal under the new rules.

Now it’s pretty easy to sit back and cite statistics and play the game that you are only looking out for the well-being of our children. Who could be against that? My opinion is, however, that you can take that and shove it.

We don’t need more government meddling into how we raise our children on the farm – not from a government that can’t balance its checkbook.

Rural kids are not abused, they are blessed. They are not taken advantage of, they are given an advantage. They get to live where they have the best, most healthy, constructive environment to grow up in of any kids in the country and the government doesn’t have a darn thing to do with it. Of all the problems out there, this is not one of them.

Government has plenty to do without meddling with how farmers raise their children. Taxing cow flatulence, regulating farm dust or telling farm folks they can’t have kids help on the farms may not sound that monumental to city folks, but I have lived here all my life and I’m going to tell you Democrats that the Republicans are going to take these issues, wrap them up into a ball and bowl you over.

If the election is close, these kinds of side show stupid liberal brain farts are going to be enough to tip the election balance.

Partisan Republicans actually love it when Democrats, out of touch with rural America, decide to play “do gooder” and impose their rules on rural voters. That’s why rural states are most often red states.

My 11 year old can’t wait until he weighs enough to keep the seat heavy enough to trigger the safety switch that keeps the lawn mower running on the farm.

Now the labor department is going to tell me that I can’t let him operate the John Deere mower? Only until the next election.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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