We’re fifty years down the road from the time I took photographs of California farm workers and their hard-working children. When I started planning the show at UC Berkeley I hoped that conditions would have changed! However in 2013 I find:
- The kids are still at work in the fields, trying to help their parents scrap together an income.
- Human Rights Watch estimates that we have around half a million children working in agriculture in the US, most of them on large corporate farms.
http://www.hrw.org/reports/2010/05/05/fields-peril See page 91-95 for recommendations.
- The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit recently aired a series showing children working in the fields of California’s corporate farms. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/series/children-in-the-field/
- Outmoded child labor laws from the 30s fail to cover children working in agriculture. Considered the most dangerous industry open to children, agriculture claimed the lives of 75 percent of children under 16 who died from work-related injuries in 2010. Thousands more are injured every year.
- H.R. 2342: CARE Act of 2013 amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to define “oppressive child labor,” for the purposes of the Act’s child labor prohibitions. Efforts to pass laws extending protection have been stuck in Congressional committees since 2009.
- In 2012 President Obama tried to issue an executive order ending exploitation of children on larger farms. The farm lobby campaigned aggressively and the White House cancelled the order.
More current photos of child farm workers Fifty Years Later
I believe it is finally possible to move beyond this stalemate. So I’m presenting some challenges and opening a forum for citizens, journalists, and activists who are committed to ending child labor in the fields of corporate agriculture:
Can non-profit organizations focused on children move beyond awareness raising and lobbying to innovation of new approaches, using the tools of activist communications now available?
What role should unions play in protecting children from exploitation on farms and processing facilities?
Does the role of investigative journalists end with exposing wrongs? Can you also create a forum for generating new solutions, especially when the system is stuck?
Why not build a strategy to end child farm labor in the next two to three years? Set that ambitious goal and identify the steps toward achieving it? Include farm workers in the process.
Isn’t it time to make this moral imperative self-evident and undeniable?
To contact me directly go to: Contact
Please comment with your ideas on ending exploitation of children in US agriculture and food processing. Respond to the questions I’ve raised above and suggest new questions to further the process of innovation. (All comments are screened before posting so don’t bother posting irrelevant nonsense.)