Editor's note: The following commentary was written by Mike Barnett, Director of Pulications for the Texas Farm Bureau and posted on the Texas Agriculture Talks website.

Farm kids are 30 to 50 percent less likely to develop allergies or asthma than their city cousins, two European studies show as published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

That doesn’t surprise me.

Now no study should be taken as gospel, but the farm effect makes a lot of sense.

The theory is time spent outdoors–working with animals and farm dust and all the other activities involved in farm life—exposes farm kids to good bacteria and fungi, building up their immune systems and lessening their chances of getting sick. City kids, on the other hand, live fairly antiseptic lives spending much less time outdoors and not getting the exposure to those good “bugs.”

It’s kind of like the “three-second rule” I lived by as a child. It was okay if you dropped food on the floor, picked it up and ate it as long as it hadn’t been there over three seconds. And inside the house was reserved for bad weather. If it wasn’t raining, I was outside. My friends and I must have received a huge dose of healthy microbes because we were rarely sick.

There seems to be magic in fresh air and good bacteria. And as my dad was fond of saying, “hard work never hurt anyone” either.

That’s why country kids are healthier than their city cousins. That’s the theory of the studies, anyway, and I’m sticking to it.