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CARE Act could Prohibit Youth Workers on Farms

By Connecticut Farm Bureau (5/17/10)

  MAY 24, 2010 --

H.R. 3564, the Children's Act for Responsible Employment of 2009 (CARE Act), introduced in the House by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) seeks to eliminate exemptions in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The law will eliminate exemptions that allow youth under 18 years of age to work in agriculture unless employed by a parent or guardian on a farm owned or operated by a parent or guardian.

Farm Bureau policy supports the current exemptions for all youth workers on farms, in jobs that are safe and with parental consent. The CARE Act affects all agricultural employment, not just that involving youth of migrant farm workers. It eliminates the FLSA exemption that allows non-farm youth aged 12-17 years old to work on farms in safe conditions under certain circumstances with parental consent.

There is no exception made in the bill for non-farm youth who may be working as part of their participation in vocational agriculture, 4-H or cooperative education programs. Farm Bureau opposes the CARE ACT because it eliminates the opportunity for rural youth under 18 years of age to gain valuable work experience on farms.

A report released last week by Human Rights Watch suggests that the children of migrant farm families work in fields that are unsafe. According to Human Rights Watch, the negative impacts include physical and emotional disorders, and educational limitations, which the report predicates to working in the fields.



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