There has been extensive talk in the Feed Yard Foodie house over the past six months regarding the proposed changes to the Department Of Labor regulations concerning individuals under the age of 18 working on farms. As many of you might guess, these changes would have affected our family tremendously. In fact, one of the proposed changes would have made it illegal for my daughters to be at my cattle feed yard even if they were under my supervision.
I became a little bit excited early this week when I received word that the Department of Labor was thinking of moving forward on these changes even though thousands of farmers had written letters asking them to discard them. Actually, I think that my girls would tell you that my hair turned a unique red color that shines through only when I get angry…
As a result of some intense family discussions regarding the proposed labor changes, Megan decided to sit down Wednesday evening and write a letter to Department of Labor Secretary Solis. Last night, the Department of Labor issued a statement that they were planning to discard the proposed labor changes. When I received word that Sec. Solis was not moving forward with the changes, Megan’s carefully crafted words became, quite possibly, the best letter that I never had to mail…
Dear Department of Labor Secretary Solis:
My name is Megan Anne Burkholder and I am 10 years old. I live in a little town called Cozad which is in Nebraska. It is a little bit west of being smack dab in the middle of the United States of America. My family has about 3000 acres of land. My daddy farms and grows alfalfa and makes it into dehydrated animal feed pellets.
My mom has a cattle feed yard a few miles from our house. Almost every day I go to my mommy’s feed yard and sometimes I help her exercise cattle (if I do not have school). I have so much fun and she teaches me a lot! I learn how to understand and care for cattle. Cattle are prey animals and they think very differently from the way that I do. Because my mom teaches me how to understand cattle, I stay safe when I help her to handle them. She shows me how to communicate with the animals so that I learn how to take good care of them. This is important because well cared for cattle make AWESOME beef! That’s what I love to eat!
My mom has special safety rules at her feed yard so that I stay safe. I am her daughter and my safety is important to her. I have learned how important it is to follow directions and also how to work hard. I love being at the feed yard! It is like a second home! Everyone at the feed yard is like family–even though they are not blood related to my sisters and I—Mama’s crew of guys is wonderful. They teach me important things too.
I hope that for the rest of my life I will get to go to her feed yard to help. But, my mom tells me that you are changing labor regulations so that I will not be allowed to go to the feed yard with her anymore. Why are you doing that? It does not make any sense to me. Our farm is our life, and I want to be a part of it. The time that I spend with my mom is special and I do not want to give it up. Please do not make it illegal for me to help my mom care for her cattle. You can go to our family’s website and see pictures of me helping my mom. The link is http://feedyardfoodie.com.
Megan Anne Burkholder