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The Lee County Sheriff's Department is now working with the Albany Crime stoppers. The Lee County Sheriff's Department asked to join the Albany Crime-stoppers program. The Sheriff's Department believesMore >>
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Some princesses and super heroes made a stop in Albany Wednesday to visit young patients at Phoebe Putney Memorial hospital. More >>
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Wednesday, May 22 2013 6:31 PM EDT2013-05-22 22:31:56 GMT
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Prosecutors say three men beat a man in an Albany club parking lot so fiercely they fractured his skull.More >>
COLQUITT COUNTY, GA (WALB) -
All across south Georgia, children work on their family farms. It's part of our culture and often vital to the survival of small family farms. But that work can be dangerous. Last year, The U-S Labor Department proposed new safety regulations that would have limited what kind of farm work children could do.
Ag organizations and lawmakers from farm states convinced the Department to drop the plan.
The push for tougher restrictions came at a time when fewer children were being injured on farms. We spoke with a successful farmer in Moultrie who says he has his dream job now, and it is all because of the time spent on the farm as a kid.
Michael Chafin had a unique childhood. Instead of playing sports with his friends, Chafin spent his summers working on his family's farm.
"I wasn't really interested in sports at the time, I wanted to be on the farm and that is where I was," said Mike Chafin, Sunbelt Ag Expo Farm Manager.
He started working on the farm when he only about 10 years old.
"Old enough to reach the pedals on the tractor," said Chafin.
He doesn't agree with the proposed federal rules. Chafin says they don't reflect the current reality on farms.
"Farming is a lot safer than what it used to be, years ago before farming evolved, into what it has today, kids had to work on the farm, that was the parents lively hood," said Chafin.
Under the Labor Department's failed proposal, paid farm workers would have to be 16 to use power equipment, such as tractors.
"Those chores that I had on the farm, are the same chores that a lot of other kids had, mowing the grass," said Chafin.
Labor Department officials note that children performing farm work are four times more likely to be killed than those employed in all other industries combined.
"But there are risks in every job, so you have to learn to mitigate those risks, and go about doing the job that you have too do in the safest way possible," said Chafin.
Chafin has put to good use the lessons he learned on the farm, turning farming into his career.
"I am very very proud to have been raised in Southwest Georgia, in a farming operation, that has what has brought me to where I am today, I would not be here, without the skills and without the work ethic that was instilled in me on the farm as a child."
He was recently selected as the Farm Manager for one of the largest farm shows in North America, the Sunbelt Expo.
According to U.S. government figures, for every 1,000 U.S. farms, agriculture-related injuries to workers younger than 20 dropped by nearly half from 2001 to 2009. Farming groups attribute the decline to greater awareness of risks. They say when children begin farm work at an early age, safety becomes engrained in them.