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Updated: May 21, 2023

I was almost killed when I was about 14 years old. I was plowing for a neighbor when I accidentally lowered the plow into the ground too far causing the front of the tractor to rear up from the excessive resistance. Somehow I managed to disengage the clutch after which the front end dropped about 4' on its 2 wheels, bouncing a couple of times before stopping. I shuddered to think of what would have happened had the tractor flipped over. It still haunts me.

I should have never been put in that situation, but that was before laws were passed prohibiting kids under 16 from engaging in dangerous farming operations.

That's changed. With the labor shortage affecting multiple industries, already this year 8 laws have been passed in 7 mostly Republican dominated states, including my home state of South Dakota, repealing work restrictions for 14 and 15 year old children.

According to the Government Accountability Office, 452 kids were killed on the job between 2003 and 2016 and most of these deaths occurred in agriculture. 73 of those kids were under the age of 12. That number has certainly increased in the intervening years and now because of these weaker restrictions, the death of minors will undoubtedly accelerate.

Aside from the risks associated with young, inexperienced people in the workforce, further collateral damage occurs as these kids drop out of school. They simply cannot work half the night in a factory and then be expected to perform during the day when they're supposed to be learning.

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