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The Feds' Intrusions Into American Farms and Families

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

With Mother's Day right at our back, I want to address one of the most extreme overreaches by the federal government into American homes that I've seen in a long time. Then I want to call on my own 91-year-old mother, who was raised in rural Oklahoma and worked in cotton fields with her family during the Great Depression, to help set straight the rural farm and child labor record.

After a national decry by American farmers (and all of us who support them), the Obama administration has just shelved its plan to severely restrict kids younger than 16 from working on family farms. But mark my words. As the feds often do, they merely are regrouping to march again on those great American homesteads.

Part of the very words of the U.S. Department of Labor's "withdrawal" statement: "The Department of Labor is announcing today the withdrawal of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 who work in agricultural vocations. ... To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration."

"Will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration"?

So, until Jan. 20, 2013, right?

Kudos to the bipartisan group of 98 members of Congress who sent a letter to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis protesting this rule, which would have severely limited teenagers and younger children from learning the family trade, not to mention undermined the very business fabric of rural America. It might sound legislatively crazy if it weren't coming from one of the most overextended federal governments in the history of the U.S.

According to The Raleigh Telegram, "the rule would have prevented children younger than 16 from doing 'agricultural work with animals and in pesticide handling, timber operations, manure pits and storage bins' while also forbidding them from using 'power-driven equipment' and working in the 'cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco.'"

Can you imagine? What's next? The feds' crackdown making it illegal for kids to wash dishes, because a knife might cut them? No grinding up food, because the garbage disposer might malfunction and start suddenly while their hand is in it? No more cooking or ironing, because their hands might get burned? No more housecleaning, because the Environmental Protection Agency has designated the mixture of certain cleaning chemicals as hazardous to touch or breathe in?

Let's get real, folks! How far do the feds have to mingle in our manure before we say enough is enough? How far do we have to slide down the slippery slope of socialism before the descent becomes irreversible, before we say, "Welcome to Greece"?

As my mom, Wilma Norris Knight, told me on Mother's Day, "the federal government should keep their noses out of our business! Raising kids is the responsibility of parents, not the government. My papa and mama would have marched from Oklahoma all the way to Washington, D.C., if they tried to tell us what to do on our farm."

This past Mother's Day weekend, many of you probably saw my mom being interviewed by Mike Huckabee, our friend the former governor of Arkansas, on his Fox News Channel show, "Huckabee." During the interview about her new autobiography, "Acts of Kindness: My Story" (available only at, she said it best: Kids need lots of love from their own parents and the influence of their church teachers. Our children are on loan to us from God, and he nowhere alludes to the nurturing influence of a central government!

What's really at the heart of the Labor Department's farm action is the continued implementation of Agenda 21, a United Nations program launched in 1992 for the nebulous purpose of reaching global "sustainable development" but which actually promotes a European socialist system that will undermine and chip away our freedoms, liberties and rights.

At the heart of that global and social change agenda is the use of nongovernmental organizations, civil resistance movements and class warfare protests, just like the ones we've seen with Occupy's vow to shut down businesses and even Wall Street. One major Occupy website even embraces Agenda 21 as the agenda for its movement!

Of course, don't look for the term Agenda 21 to show up in President Barack Obama's re-election speeches. To the public, he will continue to pitch -- as he did last week -- that he is the real small-government president, even more so than former President Ronald Reagan! (I had no idea BO was running for comedian in chief.)

But what about actions like the Labor Department's farm act? Of course, that's not creating bigger government; it's just the passionate concern of the federal government to swoop down like a superhero and "protect" your children.

Just what we need during this post-Mother's Day week, the federal government's playing some further maternal or paternal role to our children, right?

The feds' actions prompt me to recall the wisdom of Reagan, who said, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are 'I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.'"

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