Will You Boycott Blueberries Over Child Labor Concerns?

If you are against child labor, you may have to boycott blueberries after you read this post. Did any of you see the MSN article about the crackdown on farmers who hire underage children?

Did you know that current laws allow children as young as 12 to be employed in the fields? When we go to the grocery store and see all those lovely little baskets of blueberries, they look so inviting. Ever stop to think how much work went into getting them to the store in those nice little packages?

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Child Labor in the Farming Industry

In no other occupation can children so young be legally employed. And the number of farmers who hire children even YOUNGER is staggering. The blueberry crop has been drawing migrant workers to North Carolina for years.

Federal laws adopted in 1938 exempts agriculture from child-labor standards that apply to other industries. As a result, children as young as 12 can LEGALLY work in the fields outside of school hours (ie…summer). There are very few limits or regulations. (like water breaks, how long they can work, etc.)

What does the The American Farm Bureau say?

Representatives in Congress and the Senate are working to introduce child labor protection bills. Their goal is to increase the age and improve safety conditions. Unfortunately,  (and I quote from MSN here)

“The American Farm Bureau, the nation’s largest farm lobbying organization, has opposed it, saying it could imperil the tradition of children working in farm communities.”

From the information I have read, it seems like North Carolina inspectors are starting to crack down on farmers who employ children under 12, but even so….isn’t 12 a little young?


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Pesticide Exposure in Children

Think of the pesticide exposure that these children are getting. And we worry about our children eating the blueberries that we buy at the store because they aren’t organic (and seriously, I can’t give up my blueberry puff pastry tarts!)? What of the children who spend 10 hours a day laboring in these fields?

The ones actually doing the spraying? Think of their exposure to these harmful chemicals!

What Can You Do?

Concerned about child labor and your groceries? Consider shopping small and supporting local farmers that you know and trust.

Want to read more about child labor concerns in farming? Read the full MSN article HERE. Or check out the Oregon Public Broadcasting article HERE. I’m sure there are tons more articles out there, those are just the ones I read.

There is a big difference between having your child help out on your family farm and hiring illegal children to harvest your crops.

Will You Boycott Blueberries Over Child Labor Concerns?

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