Lessons from a Hay Bale

By Ty Higgins

Photo by Stuart Yensel, Seed Consultants, Inc.

There are many differences between urban and rural communities, from the way we talk to the way we dress. The list of variations goes on and on. Among them all, the most glaring difference that I have noticed since I returned to my position as a Farm Broadcaster is the youth.

I cannot tell you just how many young people that have come from Ag backgrounds have impressed me with their communication skills, willingness to work, respect for others and for themselves. I am not here to bash the kids in the urban areas. Many of them do not have the opportunities that are afforded the youth of agriculture, and that in my opinion is too bad. The World would be a different place if everyone slung hay bales on a 90 degree day.

I admit, and so would everyone that has baled hay, that it is one of the worst jobs on the planet. I still can only think of one thing enjoyable about the unbearable task and that is watching someone else do it!

Looking back though, I did learn quite a bit rolling along at 5 miles per hour stacking 80 pound bales. I learned how great of a feeling it is to put you head to a pillow feeling tired but accomplished. I learned that a twenty dollar bill is a bit harder to spend when it doesn’t come easy. I learned, after having to restack a wagon, to do the job right the first time. I learned just about every valuable life lesson that I still draw from today.

If the U.S. Department of Labor has its way, those lessons will be learned no more.

Under the potential rules from the DOL, kids under 16 would not be able to operate power equipment such as lawn mowers and tillers. There is a caveat, children of farmers who work for their parents would be immune to most of the legislation. Other relatives, such as cousins however, would still be under the regulation.

Many in the Ag sector fear the effects these new regs would have on the 4-H and FFA programs throughout the State. Another concern is a potential prohibition on youth harvesting fruits and vegetables, which would prevent high school and college students from working what are considered traditional summer jobs in rural areas.

I will always value the time I spent on the farm throughout my childhood. It is because of my early introduction to that way of life that I value anything at all. If those types of experiences fall to the wayside for the next generation, I can just feel the twine snapping on the future of our industry and our society.

Read more about the regulations here.

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