Don’t get on the tractor ‘lil Billy

The Department of Labor is proposing changes to what jobs kids can do in agriculture to try to “protect” them. These changes will dictate the types of jobs a kid can do depending on their age and the relationship to the owner of the operation. There are many problems with this proposed rule. First, a young adult will be limited in jobs (aka, learning opportunities) if the farm is owned by anyone other than his/her parents. Second, and probably most important, the government is trying to dictate how to raise your kids.

Briana, of Grimmius Cattle, very graciously offered to share her comments with us that she sent to the DOL. We think she did a great job of explaining why these proposed changes need to be dropped. You can find her at: or on twitter at:

To Whom It May Concern:

As a family business, the new proposed rules would greatly affect not only our business, but many agricultural businesses across the country, just like ours.  I do appreciate the Department of Labor for trying to protect the children of this country.  However in this case, the DOL will be doing more to hurt than to help.  Farms have been a family tradition since the beginning.  A father starts a farm and has three sons, who then start their own farms next to their father’s farm.  Those sons have children.  Family farms today are multi-generational.  The basis of a farm is everyone helping everyone – that is the nature of agriculture.  Our nation wants to preserve the family farm because they are scared of giant agricultural businesses taking over, but if these rules come to be, then the family farm has no hope of survival.

In addition to the previously mentioned, our ranch looks at the opportunity for youth to work here during their summer vacation months as a mentorship.  Imagine a fifteen year old boy working alongside of his father or older cousins and uncles.  Instead of meddling with drugs, playing video games all day or spending time with negative influences, he has the opportunity to learn life from respectable older examples.  The youth of America need more positive relationships and opportunities like this.  Why try to take that from them?

I would also like to point out that the largest number of farm-related deaths is in the age range of 16-19 years old, which is not even the age range which the Department of Labor is seeking to protect.  In addition to this, the majority of farm deaths, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, 79% of farm injuries among children and adolescents were not due to farm work.  Only 21% of farm injuries were related to work on the farm, but the other 79% were related to play on the farm.

It is true that jobs related to agriculture are more dangerous than a job where someone is sitting in an office all day.  However, working on a farm also instills in people a lot of very valuable qualities.  I surveyed a few people who worked on farms at some point in their lives to find out what they felt they learned from working on a farm and a few of the responses that I received were patience, ingenuity, responsibility, respect, perseverance, teamwork, work ethic, value, empathy and life lessons.  Work related to agriculture may not be easy, but there is a great deal of value to the hard work required from working in agriculture.

So on behalf of my family’s ranch and other agricultural businesses across this nation, I ask you to please reconsider your proposed rules.  I ask you to go back and look into farm-related injuries and deaths, but be sure that your information is coming from a first-party source and not a second or third.  Visit farms and farming communities, but do not get your information from website statistics.  Please do not take such a positive, enriching learning experience away from the children of our country.  And please do not force us to take “family” out of our family farms.



Published in: on January 21, 2012 at 4:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Texas Drought: Central Valley Helping

Just in case you haven’t heard, there’s a drought that’s devastated some states this year.  Who cares you say. It doesn’t affect me, you say. Well, we all need to care, because it is affecting countless, people and animals in drought riddled states.  Besides the humanitarian side of helping others, helping them will help all of us because the drought affects food prices all across the US.

Through one of the Central Valley’s great businesses, Sierra Desert Breeders, we heard about an effort in Wisconsin that was collecting donations to help people in Texas and Oklahoma. Of course we needed to learn more, so we contacted Sierra Desert Breeders and Carrie at Waupun Equipment in Wisconsin.

Waupun Equipment Hay Drive Photo courtesy of Carrie Mess

Central Valley Watchdogs: What is the Hay Drive?

Carrie, Waupun Equipment: The Waupun Equipment Hay Drive is the official title of what boils down to people with huge hearts  doing what they can to help those in need. It is Wisconsin farmers donating hay from their fields, companies and people from across the nation donating funds to help pay for trucking and those who so desperately need hay in the drought areas of Oklahoma and Texas getting a little bit of relief.

Central Valley Watchdogs: Who came up with the idea of The Waupun Equipment Hay Drive?

Carrie, Waupun Equipment: About 2 months ago I was at church and prayers for those in the drought area were being said. I felt like I needed to do something and starting thinking about ways I could help.  The idea of sending a load of donated hay came to my mind. On Monday I spoke with the owners of Waupun Equipment hoping they would be willing to make a donation to my efforts. Instead they offered to help me head up the drive and do whatever it took to get the hay we collected south.

Central Valley Watchdogs: What made you decide to take on this big task?

Carrie, Waupun Equipment: My husband would say that I do this because I’m a little crazy…. Honestly I never thought that it would grow to be this big of an undertaking, I am learning as I go about many facets of getting freight shipped and have picked up lots of new lingo. The spark that started this however, was feeling the need to do something to help and knowing that I should use the skills I have been given to help wherever I can. I believe it is each of our responsibilities to use what we have been given to help one another.

Central Valley Watchdogs: What companies have partnered up to help?

Carrie, Waupun Equipment: Waupun Equipment, BobCat Lawn Mowers, Dart Hay Service, Lyle Hull Trucking, Mystic Valley Farms and the wonderful Sierra Desert Breeders of California just to name a few.

Central Valley WatchdogsPlease tell us about Sierra Desert Breeders?

Sierra Desert Breeders: Founded in 2007 in the heart of the Central Valley in Tulare County, Wout Vander Goot and I (Eric Danzeisen) provide unmatched artificial insemination sales and service to dairymen worldwide.  In just 4 years we have come from being the small local company to a global competitor while still maintaining and growing our business right here in the Central Valley.

Central Valley Watchdogs: As a company located in the Central Valley of California, why did you choose to donate?

Sierra Desert Breeders: This hay drive, by Waupun Equipment Service, caught our eye from the very beginning when we saw chatter on different social media outlets.   It was always interesting/encouraging to see people donating funds and hay to other farmers in a big need of help who they never knew.  I kept thinking to myself what a great thing these people in WI are doing for these desperate farmers in the South affected by the severe drought.  Then Carrie Mess sent me an email with a story about a dairyman that really needed help now.  Not only did the drought affect them severely, but the fires destroyed everything else.  I know it is a tough time in the dairy business for everybody, especially in the central valley, but the picture of the fire was really worth a thousand words. We only did a little thing, Carrie and WES are the ones that need all of the credit!  I encourage these farmers to pay forward these donations when they get their feet on the ground and encourage other people all over to help Carrie and WES in their efforts in any way they can.

Central Valley Watchdogs: You mentioned the drive has grown larger than you expected, how much have you raised so far?

Carrie, Waupun Equipment: So far we have about 9 loads of hay donated and around $5,000 in monetary donations. We have more hay being donated every day. Each load of hay costs from $2,000-3,000 to ship.

Central Valley Watchdogs: How can others donate to the Waupun Equipment Hay Drive?

Carrie, Waupun Equipment: Monetary donations can be made via Paypal  (theres a paypal link at: ) or via check to the Waupun Equipment Hay Drive C/O The National Bank of Waupun, 210 East Main St, Waupun WI 53963 Or you can contact them at:

Also, part of what helps our trucking company keep a lower cost for us is the ability to find freight to haul back to our area. If any companies out in your area have branches in the drought area that need freight shipped via flatbed to the upper Midwest we would greatly appreciate the opportunity to haul those loads.

For more information please visit:

“We are still just shaking our heads in disbelief about the generosity and efforts you all are putting forth to help us.  We are so thankful to you, the farmers, truckers, and Waupun Equipment for everything.  This hay drive is really making a difference for us.  I would say about 75% of the mother cows in SW Oklahoma and North Texas have been shipped to market and the remaining 25% (us old hard heads) are being fed every bite they eat. Most producers that still have cows have baled some CRP acres that produced a limited amount of poor quality grass hay or have purchased some similar hay.  They are using this as filler and buying protein (cubes, pellets, liquid feed, etc. to try and sustain the cattle’s needs. What makes even a limited amount of your high quality hay so valuable to us is that we can inject it into our feeding regumen periodically to boost the protein and quality of roughage our cows are receiving.  My intentions are to use the “CRP junk” and cubes or pellets every day and then feed a Wisconsin bale every week to ten days as that energy and protein booster……. We are trying to distribute the hay in as fair and honest way as possible. This first load had 54 bales on it, so we divided it among our six closest neighbors with each taking nine bales. If you are able to send more loads, we will just widen the circle to the next six neighbors and so on.”  ~John Dee Butchee – Oklahoma Beef Producer

Where does your food come from?

Stores are full of beautiful, ripe, fresh fruit and vegetables. Loaded with delicious, nutritious meats and dairy products. And lets not forget about the wholesome grains. But all of this life-sustaining food doesn’t come from the store; it’s just sold there. Our food comes from hard-working men and women, that get up every day to provide us with this safe, nutritious food.

Since our food doesn’t come from “the store,” why is it that too many people seem to think its ok to choose a teeny fish over pumping necessary water for the crops? Why is it ok to destroy farm ground to build a train that will more than likely cost CA a small fortune and will never be completed? Why is it ok to destroy family businesses for this same train to nowhere? Where will our food come from if the ground is gone? Where will our food come from if regulations get so cumbersome and costly that no one can afford to farm? The US has the safest food supply in the World!

Here are two recent articles worth checking out:

Pacific Legal Foundation is continuing their effort to defend water rights and common sense. Recently they asked the Supreme Court “to hear their constitutional challenge to the federal government’s Delta smelt regulations that have led to devastating water-delivery restrictions through-out two-thirds of California.” -excert from PLF news release

Fox News visited the Central Valley to interview local dairy families about how the high-speed rail will affect their businesses.

Memorial Day

Picture by Impeach the Idiot

The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them,  glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.  ~Thucydides

What are you doing today? Going to the lake? A bar-b-que? How about a parade? But a 3-day weekend is not the purpose of today. Today we pause to honor and remember those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. We live in the Greatest Country in the World thanks to them!

God Bless!

Published in: on May 30, 2011 at 9:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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Central Valley’s Childrens Hospital

Hopefully, most of you will never need Valley Children’s. But it is nice to know that we have a state of the art children’s hospital in our backyard. Here are some quick facts about the hospital: 50-acre campus, 1 of 10 largest children’s hospital’s in the US and has more than 450 Doctor’s.

Although they are one of the largest, yesterday they announced that they will be expanding. You can find the press release about the announcement here:

Valley Children’s is a wonderful hospital that does incredible work. Like we said, hopefully you will never need it, but take comfort in knowing that its there.

Published in: on May 20, 2011 at 2:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The CV Watchdogs have a blog!

We’re gearing up for 2012!

Published in: on May 20, 2011 at 3:57 am  Leave a Comment