Hats off to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley for merging the Republican obsessions with child labor and Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campaign:
Concern was raised about the proposed Department of Labor's intent to greatly limit child labor on family farms.
"This farm bill will greatly affect our FFA and 4-H programs," said Grassley. "Kids won't be able to help on farms not owned by their parents.
"It's interesting that this child labor bill goes against Michelle Obama's anti-obesity initiative," said Grassley. "How can kids be active if they are limited by this law?"
Apparently the only way Grassley can think of for kids to be active enough to stave off obesity is
helping doing hard labor on farms. And that is what we're talking about—not some idyllic play gardening, but work with heavy machinery and pesticides. Marie Diamond at Think Progress offers some background:
Under current law, 400,000 children working on farms are not protected from exploitation and dangerous labor. The proposed rules would forbid children younger than 16 from working with pesticides, timber operations, handling “power-driven equipment, or contributing to the “cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco.”
Contrary to Grassley’s suggestion, the physical activity children endure during farm labor is no picnic. The fatality rate for child farm workers is four times higher than that of nonagricultural child workers.
But if they'd been protected from working the farm jobs that killed them, maybe those kids would have been obese. Also, too, Michelle Obama!