The National Grange recently took a stand against proposed regulations by the U.S. Dept. of Labor that would limit the ability of teenagers to assist in farming operations across the country, calling the proposal "destructive" to the agriculture industry.

National Grange Legislative Director Nicole Palya Wood said the regulations take aim at many of the daily chores of rural youth and seek to drastically narrow the exemptions provided to these family farms by redefining farm ownership.

"With farming operations becoming more and more efficient and complex, this new language could leave many of our rural youth prohibited from the farms that are their heritage," Wood said Tuesday. 

Ed Luttrell, president of the National Grange, America's oldest agriculture and rural America advocacy organization, said the proposed regulation goes against the grain of the American values many Grange members hold dear.

"So many of us grew up on farms, and our parents and neighbors helped us learn work ethic by giving us the opportunity, when we proved ourselves ready, to have more and more responsibility," Luttrell said. "This proposed regulation is big government stepping in to tell us when a child is ready to learn the value of work and become a contributing member of their community based on age, not on maturity. American values and a good work ethic, start at a young age, and the lessons these kids learn even doing small chores are invaluable."

The regulation, Luttrell said, "will have a direct and detrimental impact to agriculture, and would further exacerbate one of the most serious problems we as a nation face: the failure to see value in hard work."

"In our organization, many, if not most, of our leaders learned our work ethic on the farm. Even though many of us chose not to become farmers directly, we learned everything about what it is to put in a full and hard day's work, to have accountability and to do a job with pride from our time on the farm," Luttrell said. "The idea to limit on farm employment for teens is destructive to not just the agriculture industry, not just specific farm families, but to their entire generation."

Many groups have argued against the proposed regulations, citing an even more removed view of the agriculture industry for the American public.