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Kids doing farmwork?

Ten-year-old Jacob Mosbacher guides a tractor through a

Ten-year-old Jacob Mosbacher guides a tractor through a bean field on his grandparents' property near Fults, Ill. (June 20, 2012) Credit: AP

A new report this morning by the AP is looking at farm accidents involving children. The story comes in the wake of a decision last spring by The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to reverse its earlier proposal to restrict farm work to kids that are at least 16 years old, and in some cases, 18.

Farming parents are defending their right to let their kids operate tractors and other heavy equipment, though the proposed restrictions, which would have outlawed paid employment, wouldn't have applied to children working on their family farms.

I'm trying to be impartial here and step back from my big city and suburban mindset so I can put myself in the shoes of rural parents. I'm sure many of them simply can't afford to hire workers. They train their kids early and well, and the driving age in some states is much lower than it is in these parts (kids need to be just 14 1/2 to drive unsupervised in South Dakota.) Plus, these likely are disciplined kids we're talking about, not the TV and computer types I raised myself, who, by the way, won't even help weed the garden, let alone drive a tractor. Still, I cringe at the idea of a 10 year old driving a tractor, no matter how responsible he is. The maturity and emergency decision making ability just isn't there at that age.

A friend's daughter recently burned her leg pretty badly while mowing the lawn, but I know a lot of kids here in the 'burbs do these types of chores. I won't throw stones, but the idea of a powered lawn mower and a teenager fills my head with awful images of sliced up feet.

I'm curious: Do your kids mow the lawn? Take my poll.

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