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On Wednesday, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard introduced the Children's Act for Responsible Employment, the CARE Act. This legislation would end the dangerous double standard that allows children in agriculture to work at younger ages and for longer hours than children working in all other industries.
While retaining current exemptions for family farms, the CARE Act would bring age and work hour standards for children in agriculture up to the standards for children working in all other occupations. This means teenagers would need to be at least 14 years of age to work in agriculture and at least 18 years of age to perform particularly hazardous work.
"Agriculture is the only industry governed by labor laws that allow children as young as 12 to work with virtually no restrictions on the number of hours they spend in the fields outside of the school day," Roybal-Allard said. "We need this legislation because we know that agriculture is one of this country's most dangerous occupations. A few summers ago, a 14-year old boy cleaning a grain bin in Mount Carroll, Illinois, suffocated to death when he was sucked into a sinkhole of flowing corn. I simply do not believe that our child labor laws reflect how we as Americans value our children."
"Agriculture continues to be the most dangerous industry for children to work in, and many times results in serious injury or even death. Despite these known hazards, children as young as 12 are allowed to perform dangerous work with few protections for very low wages," said Norma Flores López, Director of the Children in the Fields Campaign at the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs.
Published: June 13, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 09