The Harvest is a documentary that exposes child labor in American agriculture. Did you know 400,000 children work the fields? Yeah, me neither. H/T to keen-eyed follower: coincidenciaharmonica. Apparently, the agriculture industry is exempt from many child labor laws. There’s no overtime pay, either.
Look, I don’t know enough to comment, but my gut says: no.
Why did I post this? Because of that hot Super Bowl Dodge truck commercial. Check it out. And check out the revision by Latino Rebels, posted by the Future Journalism Project.
Some facts from The Harvest:
More than 400,000 children work in American fields to harvest the food we all eat
Children working in agriculture endure lives of extreme poverty
- The average farmworker family makes less than $17,500 a year, well below the poverty level for a family of four.
- Poverty among farmworkers is two times that of workers in other occupations
- Farmworkers can be paid hourly, daily, by the piece or receive a salary, but they are always legally exempt from receiving overtime and often from receiving even minimum wage.
- Families often cannot afford childcare and so have no choice but to bring their children out into the fields.
- Increasing the incomes of migrant farmworkers by 40% would add just $15 to what the average US household spends every year on fruits and vegetables, according to a researcher at University of California Davis.
Children who work as farm laborers do not have access to proper education
- Working hours outside of school are unlimited in agriculture.
- On average, children in agriculture work 30 hours a week, often migrating from May – November, making it exceedingly difficult to succeed in school.
- Almost 40% of farm workers migrate and their children suffer the instability of a nomadic lifestyle, potentially working in multiple states in a given season and attending multiple schools each with a different curriculum and standards.
- Migrant children drop out of school at 4 times the national rate.
Children face health hazards and fatalities in the fields
- According to the USDA, agriculture is the most hazardous occupation for child workers in the US
- The risk of fatal injuries for children working in agriculture is 4 times that of other young workers.
- Child farm workers are especially vulnerable to repetitive-motion injury
- Farmworkers labor in extreme temperatures and die from heat exposure at a rate 20 times that of other US workers and children are significantly more susceptible to heat stress than adults. Heat illness can lead to temporary illness, brain damage, and death.
- Farmworkers are provided with substandard housing and sanitation facilities. As many as 15%-20% of farms lack toilets and drinking water for workers, even though they are required to provide them. Farms with 10 or fewer workers are not required to provide them at all.
- EPA pesticide regulations are set using a 154-pound adult male as a model. They do not take children or pregnant women into consideration.
- Research indicates that child farmworkers have a much higher rate of acute occupational pesticide-related illness than children in other industries and that there is a strong link between pesticide exposure and developmental disabilities. Long-term exposure in adults is associated with chronic health problems such as cancer, neurologic problems, and reproductive problems.
- 64% of farmworkers do not get healthcare because it is “too expensive”
Remember that one time every day when evangelical moral vegans claim their diet is the only “cruelty-free” choice and shame everyone who consumes any type of animal product?
as a former “child laborer” or migrant worker—i am ambivilent about posts like this because YES, on the one hand FUCK YES we need to expose what is happening and that there are CHILDREN who are working these jobs and FUCK WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF COUNTRY IS THIS????? that would let and expect and indeed advoate for children working these jobs?
on the other hand…a LOT of posts like this leave out the really important shit. like, most of these children are US citizens, working alongside their non-US citizen parents. so advocating against child labor without discussing violent ICE raids and anti-immigrant laws means that child labor laws can be used to prevent parents from organizing and unionizing. because that whole threat of ICE raids thing has been used repeatedly by farmers and bosses as a way to keep workers in line.
also, the fact that children are put in unsafe situations can (and has been) be used by courts to steal children from parents….there’s just a whole HOST of reasons to be very careful in how we separate children who labor from their families/communities who are also expected to work in these same conditions (and woah, i was a migrant worker for years, and i NEVER had a bathroom to use, EVER, i don’t know where they got that 15-20% number)—not the least of which is that many adult migrant workers are *expected* to learn english to get on the “path to citizenship” and when are they supposed to do that, working 20 hour days? or, in other words, I value the intelligence, artistic capabilities and potential of all the adults that often dropped out of school in 9th or 10th grade to become full time workers just as much as i value the potential of the 12 year old that is not going to school—i hate how there’s always this idea that since adults are working a particular job, they must be ok with it, when lots of times, as most migrant worker children know, their parents are sacraficing *EVERYTHING* to try to get just a teeny bit more put away cuz education is *expected* for their children…
i mean….i’m not saying that children shouldn’t get a particular focus. and i’m not saying that adults are more important than children. i’m just saying….that there’s a *narrative* around the adult workers (they have a choice! they’re here for a better life!) that makes me just feel really sick when i see the focus on child workers—i recognize that improving working conditions for children would improve conditions for all—but i often get the feeling that people don’t want to improve conditions for children (and thus for all)—they want to *criminalize* youth working. which would NOT improve conditions for all.
and it’s not ok for me that adults are expected to work in this shit any more than it is ok for children to. and i don’t care if joe blow IS here to “improve his life”—he deserves a chance to improve his life by joining a fucking band or writing a book out in the wilderness JUST LIKE RICH WHITE DUDES DO. he deserves to not work his body into an arthritic mangled mess just so his kid can eat or spend an extra semester in college.
I value the beauty of potential that working class mexicans (and ALL migrant workers, who are NOT all mexican) have, and something just feels wrong about saying *some* farm workers are working in injust conditions.
and i’m trying not to rant, cuz i don’t think that the OP was saying this and i think probably everybody who liked this post would agree with me—but it is just really important to me to make this visible…