As a boy growing up in southeast Texas, I not only worked on my family’s farm, I lived and breathed it.

What many people outside of rural America don’t understand is that farm work for a kid is not just a chore or a job — it’s a way of life.

Learning to drive a tractor comes as natural as riding a bike and there’s nothing that teaches a kid more discipline and commitment than milking a cow. It was ‘American Gothic’ painter Grant Wood who once said, “All the good ideas I ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.”

Farm work has always played a significant role in the lives of rural youth across the country, whether they are milking cows on their grandparents’ farm or harvesting apples as a summer job.

But, because of general misunderstanding and over-zealous activists, the ability of rural kids being able to perform traditional farm chores and jobs is in serious jeopardy.

Way of life

A proposed rule released by the Department of Labor would have detrimental effects on farm families. No longer would kids be allowed to do many chores on their grandparents’ farms, nor would kids under 16 be allowed to get a typical summer job at their neighbor’s farm — even with their parent’s consent.

Under the DOL rule as it was proposed in September, a child can only work on a farm that is ‘wholly owned’ by his or her parents.