Laboring to keep kids off the farm?

"I grew up working on a farm." I'd love to see current Census stats that could somehow ballpark the number of people who can say that. These days, I'm sure we're talking a miniscule amount of people who can join me in making that claim. For me and my whole extended family from Wisconsin, this is a badge of honor. A serious percentage of the decent stories I carry with me from those formative years come from that farm life. That's why I'm perplexed by the effort by the Labor Department to limit agribusiness hiring of young people. There's a long list of issues raised. Including the fact that serious accidents do indeed happen on the farm (or on those businesses closely associated with agriculture). But do we really want to keep young people from having those jobs and from gaining those experiences? I'm certainly not embracing the recent classist scoldings coming from Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump - a nation that sends its poor to work as apprentice janitors is a nation on the decline in more ways than the obvious. I'm talking about something entirely different. After all, the roots of this nation are solidly agrarian, even if those roots have grown weak and far fewer in number. I see something utterly valuable in having kids - yes, kids - out there working on farms. Within certain limits, of course. Granted, I grew up on a farm that was unconventional. To say the very least. Yet I remember punching the time clock on that farm as far back as the summer before I started Sixth Grade. I think my first hourly wage was $1.50. Adjust that for inflation, up the ante, and give kids a safe shot at life on the farm. Of all the things to regulate, kids working on the farm doesn't belong near the current top of that list.

I'd love to hear from anyone else with similar experience, no matter what view they take. Especially if they disagree. It's far from idyllic out there. It's real. And necessary.