Agriculture is the most dangerous work open to children in the United States. Children risk pesticide poisoning, serious injury, and heat illness. In 2012, 28 children under age 18 were fatally injured at work in the US; two-thirds of them worked on farms. Thousands more are injured each year.
The US Congress has caved in to Big Agriculture to abandon the most vulnerable working children in America. Instead of protecting child farmworkers, Congress looks the other way when children get crushed, suffocated, and poisoned on the job.
US law allows children to work on any farm at age 12. The law sets no limit on how early in the morning, how late at night, or how many hours children can work in agriculture, as long as they do not work during school hours. Sixteen and seventeen year-olds can work under hazardous conditions in agriculture, but not in any other job.
Child labor on farms risks children's health and lives. Tell Congress to protect children and raise the minimum age for farm work.
I urge you to repair the appalling laws that allow abusive child labor on our nation's farms.
Agriculture is the most dangerous industry open to young workers in the United States:
- Accidents involving tractors (such as tractor rollovers) account for one-third of all deaths of farmworker youth.
- Work in agriculture can be deadly; in 2012, nearly 75% of all children under age 16 who died at work were laboring in crop production.
- Tobacco cultivation is particularly toxic for children and can result in nicotine poisoning. Studies have found that non-smoking tobacco workers have similar levels of nicotine in their bodies as active smokers.
I believe that the Fair Labor Standards Act should be amended to apply the same age and hour requirements to children working for hire in agriculture as already apply to all other working children. The minimum age for particularly hazardous work in agriculture should be raised to 18, in line with existing standards in all other industries.
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I look to you to take action in defense of children in the United States.
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