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Rehberg the “Rancher” Is Out of Touch with Reality of Montana Farmers and Ranchers

All hat, no cashmere goats. That’s the only possible explanation for the out-of touch remarks6437358163_5082a5de9a_m made by Representative Rehberg when he suggested that there is no danger in agricultural work.

Rehberg, a six-term congressman who’s running to unseat Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), said he’s a fifth-generation Montana rancher whose great grandfather, born in 1873, started breaking horses at age 11. Rehberg said he has “taken all the glamour” out of his ranching operation. “I don’t rope and I don’t tie and I don’t brand with a hot iron,” he went on, adding that he uses modern equipment that he said is virtually incapable of hurting children.

“You can’t get hurt,” Rehberg fumed. “It’s impossible. You could have a five-year-old out there running it.”

Rehberg’s right, of course, when it comes to his version of ranching, which no doubt involves a lot of hired help planning driveways on the land his great-grandfather broke horses on.

Of course, the reality for those who aren’t farming subdivisions is a bit more complicated and dangerous. In fact, according to the Department of Labor, working in agriculture is the 4th most deadly profession in the United States. All of us who work and live in Montana know people who’ve been seriously hurt or even killed on our farms and ranches—and appreciate the dangers and sacrifices those jobs entail.

It’s a critical—and dangerous job, as Representative Rehberg should know:

The Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that the fatality rate for agricultural workers who are 15 to 17 years of age is 4.4 times greater than the risk for the average worker in that age range. The most common cause of agricultural deaths among young workers is farm machinery, with tractors involved in over half of the fatalities.
“Many tragic and unnecessary accidents involving children employed in agriculture never make the national news, but result in significant harm to the lives of those children and their families,” Leppink said.

For Rehberg to suggest that farmers and ranchers “can’t get hurt” demonstrates just how little connection he has to the land he once pretended to farm and to the people who really work that land.

Rehberg’s defense of agriculture might make a good sound bite in an election year, but it’s certainly telling that he doesn’t understand the real dangers faced by people he pretends to be one of.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • When this Guy Opened his mouth to this Child labor Crap…. I just couldn't believe it! I have lost 6 real good people ( friends), people who were some of the best in the business of breaking Horses for racing… To horse related Breaking and training! I have two floating ribs because of breaking and training horses since 1972! I am not allowed on them anymore! and I am one of the lucky ones, alot of horseman I grew up with, are physically disabled now!
    Llyods of London said that the breaking, training, and racing of horses, is the most dangerous sport in the world! Denny Rehberg is an Idiot… and cannot be a horseman, anymore then the dogs I own

    • How about trying debate the merits of the topic instead of presenting a lame attack from six months ago?

      Why doesn't Congressman Rehberg know about farming life?

    • Yes, I have Google, too.

      My objection is not about the substance of the regulation (which has largely been resolved without Rehberg's grandstanding), but the fact that Rehberg is either willing to lie to Congress or has no idea about agricultural life.

  • There is a huge difference between what Rehberg had to say and what the actual law says. Yes, Tester opposed this as well – and in my opinion, rightfully so – but it wasn't just about breaking horses. The original proposal was over the top restrictive and it was common sense Senators and Congressmen that got the exceptions added to the new regulations that will allow family farms to continue to operate. Let's be realistic. I was driving a farm truck long before I was 16 and I owned and took care of livestock at 13. In fact, I had my real driver's licence before I was 16 but that is another subject altogether. I am tired of all this "Oh noes… it is for the kids" crap. It is making our kids weaker and less capable of dealing with the real world after high school. I spent lots of hours working on our small place and I knew plenty of kids that worked long hours on their ranch/farm. Taking away that ability would bankrupt most small farms/ranches and this was the actual issue. Rehberg is just an idiot.

    • I am not talking either about small farms and ranches as a rule either, but think about this…. accidents occur in farming and ranching more so then any other Occupation in the Nation!

  • One other thing to point out… this issue was put to rest a year ago. Rehberg is bringing it back up (threatening sanctions against the Dept of Agi) to score points with the electorate of Montana. Sadly, it is one more showboat attempt that will fall flat on it's face.

      • Not sure exactly what you are trying to infere, Ingy. I really don't have a take on the "jesus statue". It seems a lot of bruhaha over nothing to me. I could care less whether the statue remains or not. It doesn't personally effect me. I would much rather my Representatives focus on the bigger issues, but Denny has never seemed to want to actually deal with bigger issues.

  • Hello there, simply turned into alert to your blog through Google, and located that it’s really informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels. I will appreciate if you continue this in future. Lots of other folks might be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  • I actually think that we are dealing with limited intelligence when we are dealing with Rehberg. Obvious to most on this site but perhaps not so much to others? So, to say he is "out of touch" presupposes he is, in fact, (or has ever been) "in touch" with even basic skills of analysis. Given this, nothing this man says should be a surprise (or a disappointment.) His constituency, sadly so, is composed of some Montanans with good intentions but little exposure to the other side of any story Rehberg tells. And he does tell a good story. A well-televised debate with Tester might be exactly the "John McCain" moment Montana needs to expose this drugstore cowboy. (Who, by the way, dresses him? I am reminded of "Men at Work" singing YMCA every time I see him.)

  • Have you ever thought about creating an ebook or guest authoring on other websites? I have a blog centered on the same ideas you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my viewers would appreciate your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to send me an email.

  • His comment is indeed interesting as ranching life can be extremely dangerous. I grew up on a ranch and love the ranching life but it is not for the faint of heart! I am not surprised that it is the 4th deadliest profession!

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