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These robots can use the guidance to navigate between rows of crops on its own, reducing the manpower behind it. Other companies are creating plant-transplanting robots that add a new level of efficiency to traditional methods and finally, automation is being tested for fruit-picking and nut harvesting , something that has always seemed to be too delicate for robotics in the past.

After crops are harvested, RFID sensors can be used to track food from the field to the store. The end user, or the consumer, will be able to follow a detailed trail about the food they consume from the farm it came to the location where it was purchased. This technology could increase trustworthiness for manufacturers and their responsibility to provide fresh produce and goods.

Coli or other harmful bacteria, but if there is an outbreak, it would be easy to track the produce back to the farm or factory where it was processed. Think about the lettuce recall that happened a few weeks ago. If all crops had RFID sensors, outbreaks and panic could be minimized.

These tracking systems could reduce apprehension regarding allergens and health requirements for consumers. As for the farmer, the idea that their goods are being tracked will bring about a sense of relief. Perhaps one of the most innovative pieces of the digital transformation is the ability to use machine learning and advanced analytics to mine data for trends. This can start way before the planting of the seed, with plant breeders. Machine learning can predict which traits and genes will be best for crop production, giving farmers all over the world the best breed for their location and climate.

Machine learning algorithms can also be used within the manufacturing aspect of agriculture, where consumers purchase their products. These algorithms can show which products are being purchased the most and which products are falling under in the market. Thus, creating proficient and effective forecasts for future farming. I believe that the future of agriculture depends on its digital transformation. Farmers will benefit from each of these digital transformation trends in agriculture, giving them freedom from concerns over the environment, a better yielding crop and the ability to manage their crops in new and efficient methods.

As our population continues to grow, our agricultural methods must grow with it. Share to facebook Share to twitter Share to linkedin. Daniel Newman. Read More. Maria is one of the rare farmworker children who has made it to college, where she says her experiences in the field continue to motivate her. In the long run when I finish school, I will help my parents. Once you get old you have to work.

Marcos, who lives in North Carolina, said he started working in agriculture full time when he was 12 years old. Among other things, from late November to late December, he cuts Christmas trees. Marcos explained what his work was like when he was 12 years old. He said:. My uncle, it was bad. Regular shoes. I never had any protective gear.

We still have to work.

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Marcos said that pesticides were sprayed around him. They do that for the trees that are still growing.

Six Chemicals That Changed Agriculture

A big tank on their back and they go around. They did it when I was working. It smells so bad. He had never received any training on pesticides, he said. They just want you to get it done. Last year [when I was 16] there were kids younger than me. When I was My cousin is the same age as me.

He worked Christmas trees for other people. Marcos said he normally works weekends and school vacations, on different crops throughout the year. You pretty much have to choose work or school. So sometimes I have to choose work. Then I have homework to catch up on. I go to work, I come home. I stay up late to get it done. Marcos said that no one in his family had made it past the tenth grade, and his two older sisters had already dropped out to work.

I want to go as far as I can go. Hundreds of thousands of children under age 18 are working in agriculture in the United States. But under a double standard in US federal law, children can toil in the fields at far younger ages, for far longer hours, and under far more hazardous conditions than all other working children. For too many of these children, farmwork means an early end to childhood, long hours at exploitative wages, and risk to their health and sometimes their lives.

Without a diploma, child workers are left with few options besides a lifetime of farmwork and the poverty that accompanies it. Highlighting weak protections in US law, it found that even these provisions were rarely enforced. Nearly 10 years later, Human Rights Watch returned to the fields to assess conditions for working children. We conducted research in the states of Florida, Michigan, North Carolina and Texas, interviewing dozens of child farmworkers who had altogether worked in 14 states across the country.

Shockingly, we found that conditions for child farmworkers in the United States remain virtually as they were a decade ago. This report details those conditions and the failure of the US government to take effective steps needed to remedy them. Most notably, the government has failed to address the unequal treatment of working children in the Fair Labor Standards Act FLSA , which provides fewer protections to children working in agriculture compared with all other working children.

In agriculture, children typically start working adult hours during the summers, weekends, or after school at age 11 or Many children work part time much earlier, and Human Rights Watch interviewed child farmworkers as young as seven. Seventeen-year-old Jose M. I used to feel like that. They see the cuts on their hands. They know a child at 12 goes to work. Parents told us they took their children to work because they did not have childcare and because they needed the money to meet basic expenses and buy school supplies.

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The fact that the work is legal also presents it as a legitimate choice for parents, children, and employers. But several mothers later expressed regret over the choices they had made. Another said when she saw what work did to her two oldest children, she decided not to take her two youngest children to work. Outside of agriculture, children must be at least 16 years old to work, with a few exceptions: and year-olds can work in specified jobs such as cashiers, grocery baggers, and car washers, subject to very restricted conditions.

Children often work 10 or more hours a day: at the peak of the harvest they may work daylight to dusk, with few breaks. Children described working five to seven days a week, weather permitting. For example, year-old Olivia A. Felix D. For school children, work is often confined to weekends and summers, and before and after school. Under US law, there are no limits on the hours children can work in agriculture outside of school hours. In non-agricultural settings, and year-olds cannot work more than three hours on a school day and eight hours on a non-school day. Children working in agriculture typically make less than the minimum wage.

Their pay is often further cut because employers underreport hours, and they are forced to spend their own money on tools, gloves, and drinking water that their employers should provide by law. Where the pay is based on a piece rate, meaning workers are paid by the quantity they pick, it is usually much worse. Antonio M. They receive no paid sick days, no health insurance, no paid vacation leave, and have no job security. They only get paid for the hours they work. Farmworker youth drop out from school at four times the national drop-out rate, according to government estimates.

Human Rights Watch interviewed many children who had been forced to repeat a grade one or more times and who had never had anyone in their families graduate from high school. Several factors explain this. Around 40 percent of hired crop workers migrate each year to or within the United States for work. Children whose families migrate within the United States often leave school early—in April or May—and return weeks or even months after school has already started. Fifteen-year-old Ana Z. I got out of math because I was a disaster. Children who try to combine working and going to school often find that school pays the price, in part because there are no limits on how many hours children can work in agriculture outside of school hours.

Jaime D. Working with sharp tools and heavy machinery, exposed to chemicals, climbing up tall ladders, lugging heavy buckets and sacks, children get hurt and sometimes they die. From to , at least 43 children under age 18 died from work-related injuries in crop production—27 percent of all children who were fatally injured at work. The risk of fatal injuries for agricultural workers ages 15 to 17 is more than 4 times that of other young workers. In non-agricultural sectors, no one under age 18 can do such jobs.

Incongruously, some of the same jobs that are considered too dangerous for teenagers in non-agricultural settings are perfectly legal in agriculture: a year-old who is barred from driving a forklift in a store warehouse, for example, may do so without restriction on a farm. Children routinely described small injuries, and some more serious in interviews with Human Rights Watch. Rarely did they say they sought medical care.

Jose M. Week after week I was cutting myself. Every week I had a new scar. My hands have a lot of stories. There are scars all over. Nevertheless, he said, he and his family returned to work the next day: working sick, injured, and without taking breaks was a common theme among our interviewees who needed the money and were afraid of getting fired if they missed a day.

Human Rights Watch saw children working without gloves and even barefoot. Most said no one required them to wear protective gear; if anyone, it was their parents who urged them to wear it, not their employers. Children often work performing the same motions—kneeling, stooping, or raising their arms for hours a day. Youth described pain in their backs, knees, hands, and feet, even at very young ages.

Children whose bodies are still developing are especially vulnerable to repetitive-motion injury. Children work in extreme temperatures, heat and cold, from over degrees in the Texas summer to snow in Michigan. In some climates the day starts cold and wet, then turns unbearably hot. Elias N. Heat illnesses can lead to brain damage and death, and children are significantly more susceptible to heat stress than adults.

A year-old girl in California died in May after working nine hours pruning grape vines. Her supervisor delayed her seeking medical care, and when she finally reached the hospital she had a core body temperature of degrees. Many children said that their employers did not provide drinking water, handwashing facilities, or toilets.

Children described bringing their own water and sometimes running out. In some places workers said they had to buy water with their meager wages because the quality of the water in migrant housing was too poor to drink. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA requires agricultural employers to provide drinking water, water for hand washing, and toilet facilities. Congress, however, exempts farms with fewer than 11 employees from these regulations, essentially exempting them from having to protect their workers' dignity and most basic health requirements.

Children are exposed to pesticides. Some children told Human Rights Watch they were sprayed directly; many more said that the fields next to them were sprayed while they were working, and they smelled and had reactions to the drift. I felt dizzy. I covered my face and kept working. No one told us to get out of the field. Almost none of the children we spoke with had received training on pesticide safety. Exposure to pesticides is a hazard for all farmworkers but may be especially dangerous for children whose bodies are still developing. Children are uniquely vulnerable to chemicals and may absorb pesticides more easily than adults.

Children working in agriculture have far greater incidence rates of acute occupational pesticide-related illnesses than children working in other jobs. Exposures to pesticides can produce rash, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, headaches, and burning eyes, as well as brain damage and death. Long-term pesticide exposure in adults is associated with chronic health problems such as cancer, neurologic problems, and reproductive problems.

US Environmental Protection Agency EPA regulations prohibit the spraying of pesticides when any unprotected worker is in the field or may be exposed through drift. The agency sets restricted-entry intervals REIs specifying the amount of time after pesticide application workers should not be in treated areas and requires basic pesticide safety training for all workers.

However, EPA regulations make no special consideration for children. They do not prohibit children mixing, handling, or applying pesticides although regulations on hazardous work prohibit children under age 16 from using the most dangerous categories of pesticides. REIs are set using a pound adult male as a model—they are not adapted for children, pregnant women, or others who differ from this model. Farmworker women and girls are exceptionally vulnerable to sexual abuse, ranging from inappropriate or threatening comments to groping, sexual assault, and rape.

Geographic isolation, language barriers, fear of deportation, and the desperate need for work make it very difficult for farmworkers to report abuse, much less get help. Girls may be especially targeted because they are young and because of a greater power imbalance that makes it even less likely they will complain. In the division found only 36 cases of child labor violations in agriculture, constituting only 4 percent of all child labor violations, compared with cases in In Congress raised the maximum civil money penalties for violations of child labor provisions resulting in death or serious injury, and in the Department of Labor added several hundred new labor inspectors and promised more robust enforcement of labor laws.

It remained to be seen at the time of writing whether these efforts would result in better protection for child farmworkers. Although each has recently undertaken positive steps in this direction, neither the US Department of Labor nor the EPA has made regulatory changes to better protect child farmworkers from dangerous work and pesticides. By early , the department had taken steps towards updating some of the regulations for non-agricultural jobs but had not placed amending the list for agriculture on its published regulatory agenda, despite the particularly dangerous nature of agricultural labor and younger age at which children are permitted to do hazardous jobs.

Nor has the Wage and Hour Division enforced existing prohibitions on hazardous work: in it cited only two violations of agricultural hazardous orders in two cases, or 0. In December , the EPA announced plans to strengthen its assessment of pesticide health risks for children, farmworkers and others, with a strong emphasis on risks for children in the fields. While many child farmworkers are US citizens, the entire family may fear deportation if the parents are undocumented or hold short-term agricultural visas.

Labor standards and their enforcement apply to all workers, irrespective of their immigration status. However, enforcement of workplace protection laws often relies upon workers to self-report abuse. Workers are also unlikely to report abuses to local police or law enforcement, since these agencies are increasingly involved in enforcing immigration laws. International Labor Organization Convention No. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which the United States is a signatory but not a party, seeks to protect children from economic exploitation, and also from work that is hazardous or otherwise harmful.

Additionally, because farmworker children are overwhelmingly ethnicly Hispanic, the disparity in legal protections provided to agricultural workers compared to other workers in the United States has a disparate impact that is discriminatory under international law. For the last decade, members of Congress have repeatedly introduced draft legislation into both the Senate and House of Representatives that would eliminate the double-standard in US child labor laws, and apply the same age and hour restrictions to children working in agriculture that already apply to other industries.

However, none of the bills have ever reached a vote. As this report goes to press, a House bill, co-sponsored by over 80 members of Congress, is pending. We also interviewed 11 young people ages who had worked on farms as children. We spoke with parents, legal services providers, nurses, doctors, social workers, education officials, farmers, and farm operators.

Some interviews were conducted by telephone. In total we interviewed more than people. We chose these states because they allowed us to interview both seasonal and migrant farmworkers, including migrants who were at home and on the road, as well as children working in diverse crops.

Their labor included detasseling corn and sorghum; hoeing sugar beets, cotton, and pumpkins; and harvesting asparagus, cucumbers, Christmas trees, tomatoes, oranges, apples, blueberries, peaches, tobacco, and cherries. Florida and Texas are base states for migrant workers; North Carolina, Michigan, and northern Texas are destinations. Although agriculture includes both crop and livestock workers, our interviews focused on crop workers only. Interviewees were identified largely with the assistance of a variety of organizations providing legal, health, and social services to farmworkers.

These workers may have been less vulnerable than those without contact with any such organizations. Some farmworkers approached declined to be interviewed. Human Rights Watch interviewed several agricultural guest workers, who are lawfully present in the United States on a short-term basis under the H-2A guest worker program but highly vulnerable to abuse.

Accordingly, their accounts are not used in this report. Some persons interviewed in Spanish were native speakers of other languages indigenous to Mexico. Most interviews were conducted privately and individually, away from the worksite; where interviewees preferred to have another person present, this is indicated in the notes.

All participants were informed of the purpose of the interview, its voluntary nature, and the ways in which the information would be collected and used, and orally consented to be interviewed. Most interviews ranged from 10 to 90 minutes in length. No one was provided with any compensation in exchange for an interview.

The statistics cited about the farmworker population are the most recent available at the time of writing. It is notable that there is relatively little recent nationwide data on farmworkers. Except where otherwise indicated, the names of all children have been replaced with pseudonyms to protect their privacy and to preclude any potential retaliation.

In addition, some service providers requested anonymity out of concerns about jeopardizing their access to farmworkers living on farms. Where used in this report, these terms reflect those used in the survey referenced. No one knows exactly how many children under the age of 18 are working in US agriculture. Many lack telephones and mailing addresses that are essential for most surveys conducted by the government.

Roughly half of farmworkers lack work authorization and growers employ others off the books, giving incentives to both parties for workers not to be counted. Data about child agricultural workers are at best several years old and not comprehensive. And teenagers under age 18 may not be visibly distinguishable from young adults.

Farm operators reported hiring 2,, farmworkers in , directly hiring , children under age 18 in Farmworkers under age 18 can be found working all across the country. A sizeable minority—somewhat less than 40 percent—of hired farmworkers are mobile, meaning that they move for work. Farmworkers are overwhelmingly poor: poverty among farmworkers is more than double that of all wage and salary employees in the United States.

Per family. The national impact of the recent US financial crisis on farmworkers has not been documented. Human Rights Watch received reports in some places of persons returning to farmwork after having lost preferable jobs, and reports elsewhere that such a shift had not occurred as anticipated since many people are simply unwilling to do such hard and low paying work.

We heard reports in Florida, where some workers had been able to stop migrating to other states by finding construction and other work during the off season, of workers returning to Mexico and remaining there rather than resuming migration. Children typically described going to work full-time outside of school at age 11 or Even very young workers, ages 7, 8, 9, are not difficult to find working in the fields, however.

Human Rights Watch interviewed children who said they picked strawberries at ages seven and eight in Florida, picked blueberries at age seven in Michigan, picked and shucked green peas in Virginia at age eight, and hoed cotton at ages seven, eight, and nine in Texas. I gave it to her to buy food. Under the law, on small farms with parental permission, outside of school hours, there is no minimum age for workers. By comparison, in nonagricultural settings, employment of children under age 14 is prohibited, and children ages 14 and 15 may work only in certain jobs designated by the Secretary of Labor and for only limited hours outside of school.

Children ages 16 to 18 can work in nonagricultural occupations but cannot do hazardous work. Despite these weak laws for agriculture, some growers and farm labor contractors still violate the standards in their hiring practices, including:. In interviews with Human Rights Watch, most children said that no one asked them their age or for proof of it. Most children said they started working full time at age 11 or Human Rights Watch interviewed boys and girls who at those ages were working adult shifts picking oranges and cucumbers, pulling asparagus, cutting greens and Christmas trees, hoeing cotton and cucumbers, and weeding by hand.

Children described how they felt when they first worked. I cried every day. Other children emphasized the physical hardships. My back hurt. I got blisters on my hands and on my feet when I took off my shoes. It was my first job. Older teens and young adults often described how their initial enthusiasm to contribute to the family later evolved to despair in the face of such tedious, grueling, and poorly paid work. The account of Hector H. It was too hard with the sun. It was boring. At [age] eight or nine I was hoeing cotton.

There were big weeds, three or four feet tall. It gets harder by the year, doing the same thing every year. You get tired of it. I definitely feel different about it now. I was trying to find something to be proud of, an honorable thing to be. For example, Luz A. I had to because my mom was having difficulty raising us and providing us with everything we needed.

It was ok with me even though it was hard work because I was helping out. It paid for food for our family to eat and school, the things [for school] they were always asking for us to bring. When we get all filled up with bills, we need the money. The car bill, the phone bill, the insurance. Financial need and a sense of family responsibility can push children to prioritize work above their own education and health.

Ana Z. So at least me, I do my 10 hours. We go every day, even sick. When asked, parents gave a variety of reasons for sending their children to work. Some described a financial crisis or the need to meet basic expenses. Some said that they had to bring their children to the fields anyway, that they could not afford childcare, and wanted to keep their families together, especially when migrating. In the fields even young children who are not working are exposed to pesticides, heavy machinery, and other hazards. They could get bitten by an animal. Run over by a machine.

Several parents expressed regret over having sent their children to work and over the long-term effects it had. For my kids summer was not summer. They had to work. It makes me feel guilty. Children typically work for long hours and poor pay. Many described workdays as long as fourteen hours, seven days a week at the peak of the harvest. Most children Human Rights Watch interviewed said they earned less than the federal minimum wage. By the end of the day, children said, they were exhausted. If you had the energy you would eat, but you would usually sleep, wake up, then shower and eat. After 12 [noon] you just want the time to go by quick, to come home and rest.

US federal law permits children to work in agriculture for unlimited hours, outside of school hours. In non-agricultural jobs and year-olds cannot work before 7 a. They may not work more than 3 hours on a school day, 18 hours in a school week, 8 hours on a non-school day, and 40 hours in non-school week. Most children Human Rights Watch interviewed said they were paid less than the minimum wage—many earned far less.

For example:. In one part of North Carolina, we heard reports of some employers paying children a lower hourly wage than adults. With some exceptions, agricultural workers are entitled to minimum wage. These exceptions include workers on small farms and some piece rate workers, including certain local hand harvest laborers and non-local children ages 16 and under who are working alongside their parents.

If not, I have to kick in. Most other workers, by contrast, are required to be paid one and a half times their regular rate of pay for each hour worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Although government data suggest that crop workers on average make slightly above minimum wage, these figures are likely inflated. First, in situations where workers are paid a piece rate, children often work with a parent in the fields, but only the parent is listed on the payroll.

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  4. Second, employers often falsify payroll records to show fewer hours than the employee actually worked. They also may have even fewer options to change jobs, since their employment in other labor sectors may be illegal. Even when farmworkers are paid minimum wage, the unpredictability of the work and no guarantee of minimum hours drive down their income. Farmworkers only get paid for the hours they work. They typically receive no paid sick days, no health insurance, no paid vacation leave, and have no job security.

    Among other things, average minimum wage data do not take into account unpaid hours, days, and weeks waiting out weather or traveling to remote fields.

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    Those who do find work may find themselves without income when it rains and between harvests. Some children described unscrupulous practices and outright fraud by labor contractors and growers that further reduced their pay. For example, Walter R. But when it comes to [pay]check time they say 8 to 5. But if you get off earlier, they remember. My sister would switch with me for 15 minutes. Then my boss gave me one but took it out of my check. Farmworker Health Program. Workers who harvest fresh fruits and vegetables are often paid on a piece-rate basis such as a flat rate for each box of fruit or bag of apples they pick rather than an hourly rate.

    Diana G. It takes 30 to 45 minutes to fill one bucket. Later on when the blueberries get bigger it gets faster. You get a token when you turn in the bucket. A paralegal working with farmworkers in Florida, himself a former farmworker, explained that it is very difficult for workers to consistently pick enough on piece rate to earn minimum wage. But for workers, piece rate adds additional pressure to work as quickly as possible and avoid taking breaks, sometimes even at the expense of drinking water or cooling down when overheated.

    None of the children Human Rights Watch interviewed reported that their employers had made up the difference between the piece rate they received and minimum wage. For example, although a farm operator in Michigan said that his employee tracked the hours the farmworkers worked, when Human Rights Watch reviewed records of the amount picked and payment, these were recorded as if only one person, rather than a family group, had picked the cucumbers. They can get others or do it themselves. Others described similar arrangements. Child labor in these instances, regardless of whether the children themselves are exploited, facilitates wage exploitation of adults by potentially preventing the adult from receiving the legal minimum wage.

    Where employers fail to ensure that piece rate workers make at least minimum wage, a piece rate system creates incentives for employers to allow young children to work and for families to send their children to work, even if they earn very little. We all would help on weekends. My mom was the only one registered so the check went to her. On the weekends we were five people—parents plus three kids. Children who try to work and go to school at the same time, or who migrate and miss school, find that their education often suffers. A third of child crop workers drop out before graduating from high school, and without a diploma are left with few options besides a lifetime of farmwork and the poverty that accompanies it.

    Thirty-three percent of US-born farmworkers had dropped out of school in , the most recent year for which data are available; among all farmworkers the median highest grade completed was 8th. In California, the state with the largest migrant student population in the country, a study estimated that drop-out rates among migrant children were well over 50 percent. Migrant children often end their school year early—in April or May—and return weeks or even months after school has already started.

    On her first day at school:. Some studies report children moving through as many as 10 different school districts in a single year. Beyond the sheer challenge of transferring schools, the differences between states in start dates, curriculum, and credits also make it harder for migrant children keep up. For example, when Human Rights Watch interviewed working children in Michigan, school had already started in Florida and Texas but not in Michigan.

    Emily D. I would only go for a day. You get behind a lot. Your grades go down. A migrant education professional at Immokalee High School in Florida, explained that schools in different states have different criteria for graduation and not all classes transfer. That messes up their GPA [grade point average]. I wish I were there. Children who try to combine long work hours and school, such as Marcos S.

    A study of migrant farmworker students in south Texas found that migrant students were more likely than non-migrants to miss and arrive late to school, sleep in class, and study fewer hours weekly. Migrant students also reported fewer hours of nightly sleep, fewer hours spent with their friends, and more minor illnesses than non-migrant youth.

    Migration and afterschool work also prevent children from engaging in the extra-curricular activities that help keep teens in school. Youth described not being able to play soccer or football or join the dance team, and missing prom and homecoming. Many children described an environment in which they fall behind at young ages and graduating from high school is rare. We spoke with a nine-year-old girl going into the 3rd grade who said she had flunked the 2nd grade and been held back a year.

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    She said she works in the fields when not attending summer school. Children who have recently entered the United States from other countries may not know how to access the US education system or may be unable to afford the lost wages. If I had the chance to work and study I would study. These include the Migrant Education Program, which identifies migrant children and provides education and support services, such as remedial instruction, school record exchanges, and counseling and assessment services; the High School Equivalency Program HEP , which helps farmworkers and their children who are 16 or older to achieve a General Education Development GED certificate and gain subsequent employment; and the Migrant Education Even Start MEES , which focused on improving literacy among farmworker families.

    During the school year, the Office of Migrant Education served more than , children, but these represented only 54 percent of children eligible for its programs. Working with sharp tools and heavy machinery, exposed to chemicals and extreme temperatures, climbing tall ladders, lugging heavy buckets and sacks, children get hurt and sometimes they die. Other common health hazards of agricultural work include fungal infections, contact dermatitis from plants and chemicals applied to them, hearing loss from proximity to loud agricultural machinery, eye injuries and irritations, and transportation injuries while traveling to and from work and between fields.

    In interviews with Human Rights Watch, children routinely described small accidents, and some more serious. Underreporting of injuries is, in fact, substantial, and it is argued that traditional sources of data are not reliable. Children described working with heavy machinery, using knives and chainsaws, and climbing tall ladders to pick fruit.

    As noted throughout this report, US law allows children to do hazardous work in agriculture at age 16, compared with an age limit of 18 for all other hazardous jobs. Children may legally drive tractors of over 20 horsepower take-off at age 16, and at age 14 if trained and certified. Human Rights Watch interviewed several boys ages 16 and older who said they drove tractors.

    I do the hitching. You could easily break your arm hitching. Children are also at risk of getting struck by, run over, or entangled in other machinery. I fell off the truck. My mom hurt her knee. My aunt and uncle got hurt. I had lots of cuts on my head from the broken glass. I got stitches. Children regularly work with sharp tools, from hoes and kitchen knives to chainsaws. Sometimes they cut themselves. Children under the age of 16 may not legally operate a power-driven circular, band, or chain saw.

    Children cutting kale and collard greens in southeastern Michigan showed us fresh cuts they got through their gloves. Robert L. He worked with a 6-inch knife. A bunch of blood comes out. My brothers when they were still here, one got cut bad. A lot of people get cut. Sometimes you get so close to chopping your finger off! Hector H. I went to the hospital the same day and then came back and worked. I got four stitches. It happened about 9 or 10 a.

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    I finished at the hospital about Lucas F. Sometimes the machine gets stuck and you have to pull it back. A bunch of people cut themselves. I wrapped it with a sock. In North Carolina, Marcos S. Children described climbing tall ladders carrying heavy containers to pick fruit. In the mornings, trees and ground are often wet with dew. Workers often place one foot on a branch or use the top two steps of the ladder to extend their reach, and pick with one or both arms over their head reaching for fruit.

    Twice I fell from the top of a ladder. I grabbed a branch and broke my fall. Human Rights Watch researchers saw many children working without gloves and some, including a and a year-old, working barefoot. Most said no one required them to wear protective gear; if anyone, it was their parents, not their employers.

    Some children told us that gloves were uncomfortable, cumbersome, or bruised the fruit. Raul L. But at the end of the day my hands really hurt from pulling those weeds out all day long. There are kinds without spines and others with strong ones and they stick you. Your fingerprints have a lot of little cuts from the spines. And if you forget your gloves then your arms get really scratched. Many children said their parents made them wear long pants and long sleeves but some did not. Pedro E. I was in short sleeves and shorts. Children described working bent over at the waist, on their knees, with their arms up in the air, or otherwise holding awkward positions, all day long, five to seven days a week. They often perform prolonged repetitive motions and lift heavy weights.

    They told us about pain in their backs, knees, hands, and feet, even at very young ages. Children whose bodies are still developing are especially vulnerable to repetitive motion injuries. Luz A. It was really painful sometimes. Sometimes I had a lot of pain in my hands, back, feet. Sometimes you would get all wet from your waist to your feet. Children routinely told us they felt pressure to work as fast as possible, with few breaks, and to keep working even when injured or when sickened by pesticides, heat, tobacco, colds, flu, or other illnesses. When paid on piece rate, the faster they work, the more workers get paid.

    The pressure children feel to work quickly combined with simply less work experience can increase the risk of accidents.

    There is pressure there that makes you go faster. It was like a race all the time. My stomach and my head hurt. I feel down because I know my dad is going to have to work even harder. You have to try not to miss any day. Exposure to pesticides is a serious risk for all farmworkers and even more so for children. Most children we interviewed said they had had contact with pesticides, many through pesticides being sprayed in fields next to them and blown by the wind, and through contact with residue, sometimes still wet.

    Some children reported being sprayed directly. Almost none of the children said they had received training on pesticide safety. As discussed in more detail below, children under age 16 are not legally allowed to handle or apply pesticides classified as category I or II of toxicity but may handle less toxic pesticides. Regulations prohibit the spraying of pesticides when any unprotected worker is in the field or may be exposed through drift, and require workers to be trained in pesticide safety but make no special consideration for children.

    Pesticides widely used in agriculture include insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, fumigants, nematicides, rodenticides, and plant growth indicators. Andrea C. I could smell it, it blew. We kept working. Many people say this can, can hurt you.