Farm labor law fails, area farmers breathing sigh of relief

Farm labor law fails, area farmers breathing sigh of relief

NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - It's a major victory for family-run farms.

A law that would prevent their kids from operating machinery and handling live stock, has been withdrawn.

That's because farmers across the country are saying taking away their best set of extra hands is not the answer.

For the Smith's, farming is a family affair. 15-year-old Ashleigh Smith helps out with cattle and delivering baby pigs and calves. And 12-year-old Ryan Smith puts out big round bales of hay for the cows and helping with the pigs.

They have been helping out on their family's farm for as long as they can remember.

Ashleigh explains, "They depend on us. They can't do it on their own, so they always need somebody to help."

But the farm almost lost its' best source of help, when the U.S. Department of Labor considered keeping kids from pitching in, a move that could be devastating for farms where every helping hand counts.

Farm owner Scott Smith says, "We rely on them a lot. It might not be 10 hours a day, but even if we just need somebody to help us out for an hour or two, they are there."

But without the extra help, it could mean more work and trouble for the crops.

Ryan explains, "If you waste a day or two, it could mean the hay has gone bad. It could mess everything up."

Finding experienced help elsewhere is tough to do.

Ashleigh says, "It is way different than city life. I know so much more."

The measure aimed to cut back on the growing number of fatal farming accidents among teens, but many farmers believe the plan would do just the opposite.

Scott says, "This is a specialty situation. If you haven't grown up raising cattle and working with cattle, you don't understand how they operate and how they expect you to handle them. There is a lot of stuff that can go wrong."

It could also jeopardize the future of family farms.

Scott says, "Bringing the next generation into agriculture is crucial for this nation and if we don't allow our kids to come up in this operation, then there is nobody left to take over."

Which is why the law is now off the table, and things can continue as they have on the Smith Family Farm for generations to come.