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Daily News Blog

04
May

Take Action: Protect Farmworker Children

(Beyond Pesticides, May 4, 2020) Exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act allow children to work unlimited hours in agriculture at the age of 12 and allow child farmworkers to perform hazardous work at the age of 16. These exemptions apply only to farm labor and are significantly less stringent than law applying to other sectors. U.S. Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard of California has reintroduced H.R. 3394, the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety (CARE) to correct these inconsistencies, which harm farmworker children.

Tell your Congressional Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 3394. Thank those who are co-sponsors of the bill.

Currently, children ages 12-13 may not be employed outside the home in non-agriculture labor, but may work in agriculture outside of school hours. Children ages 14-15 may work in non-agriculture only with strict limitations on time of day and hours per week, but may work in agriculture outside of school hours without any restrictions. The minimum age for hazardous work in agriculture, such as pesticide handling, is 16, but is 18 for non-farm labor. H.R. will make the restrictions for agriculture child labor consistent with non-agriculture labor. The bill does not apply to the sons and daughters of farmers working on their family farm.

The worker protection standard (WPS) is an EPA regulation that includes restrictions to protect farmworkers applying pesticides. In 2015, the WPS was revised to set a minimum age of 18 for pesticide application. In 2018, after being sued for not implementing the minimum age requirement, EPA proposed lowering the age to 16EPA dropped its proposal to lower the age for pesticide handlers after negotiating with Congress. Despite EPA’s reversal, a change in the statute such as that proposed in H.R. 3394 would prevent the agency or the courts from allowing 16-year-olds to be hired to apply pesticides in the future.

Children of farmworkers are those most threatened by this discrepancy. The health of children of farmworkers is at risk in other ways from the use of toxic pesticides. Doctors annually diagnose up to 20,000 poisonings among agricultural workers – and that statistic only represents what is publicly reported. Working mothers are exposed to chemicals that can have long-lasting impacts on their unborn children, such as brain function damage. As a result of their working conditions, farmworker life expectancy is 49 years, compared to 78 for the general population. This is similar to the life expectancy of individuals living in the 1850s. We need to correct the injustices suffered by farmworkers and their families.

Tell your Congressional Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 3394. Thank those who are co-sponsors of the bill.

Letter to Congress – Request to Cosponsor

I am writing to ask you to cosponsor H.R. 3394, the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety, which will make the protection of children on farms consistent with that of children working in non-agricultural work.

Exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act allow children to work unlimited hours in agriculture at the age of 12 and allow child farmworkers to perform hazardous work at the age of 16. These exemptions apply only to farm labor and are significantly less stringent than law applying to other sectors. Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard of California has reintroduced H.R. 3394, the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety (CARE) to correct these inconsistencies, which harm farmworker children.

Currently, children ages 12-13 may not be employed outside the home in non-agriculture labor, but may work in agriculture outside of school hours. Children ages 14-15 may work in non-agriculture only with strict limitations on time of day and hours per week, but may work in agriculture outside of school hours without any restrictions. The minimum age for hazardous work in agriculture, such as pesticide handling, is 16, but is 18 for non-farm labor. H.R. 3394 will make the restrictions for agriculture child labor consistent with non-agriculture labor. The bill does not apply to the sons and daughters of farmers working on their family farm.

Children of farmworkers are those most threatened by this discrepancy. The health of children of farmworkers is at risk in other ways from the use of toxic pesticides. Doctors annually diagnose up to 20,000 poisonings among agricultural workers – and that statistic only represents what is publicly reported. Working mothers are exposed to chemicals that can have long-lasting impacts on their unborn children, such as brain function damage. As a result of their working conditions, farmworker life expectancy is 49 years, compared to 78 for the general population. This is similar to the life expectancy of individuals living in the 1850s. We need to correct the injustices suffered by farmworkers and their families.

Please cosponsor H.R. 3394, the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Thank You Letter to Current Cosponsors

I am writing to thank you for co-sponsoring H.R. 3394, the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety, which will make the protection of children on farms consistent with that of children working in non-agricultural work.

Children of farmworkers are those most threatened by the current discrepancy. The health of children of farmworkers is at risk in other ways from the use of toxic pesticides. Doctors annually diagnose up to 20,000 poisonings among agricultural workers – and that statistic only represents what is publicly reported. Working mothers are exposed to chemicals that can have long-lasting impacts on their unborn children, such as brain function damage. As a result of their working conditions, farmworker life expectancy is 49 years, compared to 78 for the general population. This is similar to the life expectancy of individuals living in the 1850s.

We need to correct the injustices suffered by farmworkers and their families.

Thank you for your support.

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