CLIMATE ADAPTATION

I want to punch climate change in the face. A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.


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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”
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