Farm workers in a U.S. field. Photo by XC

By Dayanara Hernandez, age 14 

A recent article by Karen Coates and Valeria Fernández published in Pacific Standard, “The Young Hands That Feed Us,” revealed the hidden reality of child labor in the United States. A 2014 Childhood Agricultural Injury Survey estimated that 524,000 children worked on farms. Compared to other industries, these children could legally work remarkably longer hours, at lower wages and in hazardous conditions. The federal minimum age to work is 14, but agricultural work may begin at age 12, and work on a family farm may begin at any age. The current hourly minimum wage is $7.25. “I’ve suffered a lot, but you know what: I need to help my family,” Reyes, a 16-year-old farmworker told Pacific Standard. “If I don’t do it, who is gonna do it?” Children’s education is also disrupted by the nature of the farming industry, with many families having to move to follow the harvest.

Glossary

AgriculturalAgriculture is another word for farming. It includes both growing and harvesting crops and raising animals, or livestock. Agriculture provides the food and many raw materials that humans need to survive.

Hazardous– Risky; dangerous for example,”we work in hazardous conditions”

Remarkable– Worthy of attention and is unusual.