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Jul 27

A Youth's Response to the NPR article: Children as young as 12 work legally on farms, despite years of efforts to change law

A Youth’s response to the NPR article: Children as young as 12 work legally on farms, despite years of efforts to change law

To access the article:

This article is written from the standpoint of a left-leaning “child” of thirteen years old working on a dairy farm located in Hartland Vermont.

For your better understanding:
Old Bill:

“Congress acknowledged this way of life and the unique business attributes of farming and ranching when it passed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under current law, minors 16 years or older may perform any job on farms or ranches whether or not the government deems it to be hazardous. Congress, through the FLSA, also permits 14- and 15-year-olds to perform nonhazardous farm jobs outside of school hours. Congress long ago recognized that parents know their own sons and daughters better than the government and so the FLSA also gives parents the freedom to allow their 12- and 13- year olds to work in nonhazardous jobs outside of school hours.2 When creating the FLSA, Congress also recognized the central role that agriculture has in the foundation of this country, and so youth may work on their family farm at any age.”

[This information comes from Kristi Boswell, in her testimonial for,  “Children at Risk: Examining Workplace Protections for Child Farmworkers” All above is 100% factual today, June 12, 2023]

New Bill: 

From the article: “The Children's Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety would do away with the double standard, by raising the minimum ages for agricultural work to match all other occupations. [such as working with hazardous equipment and working at all]”



    I wake up every Sunday morning to drive to a farm about thirty minutes away, earning 7$ an hour in the dawning hours of the day. I do it for many reasons: because I love the work I do, it keeps me motivated, it makes me feel independent and responsible, and it earns me a little money. My independence and personal expression relies on this limited source of income.

My issues with the article

While Andrea Hsu and many of the Democratic Representatives seek to stand proud as a heros, stepping on the necks of those they feel to have saved, there our those of us out there that feel that “House Democrats are seeking to bring those children into the conversation[.]” ought to include real “children” having a place in the conversation. I concede that there are many good points in the argument Adndrea presents, and I seek to educate and allow others to draw their own conclusions from the full picture rather than providing half the story, as we well know there is too much of today. The sections of her writing I have no issue with are as follows:
Margaret Wurth, senior children's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, says current labor law creates absurd parallels, where children of the same ages doing the same work aren't receiving the same protections, simply because they're working in different sectors.
"So for example, to operate a circular meat slicer at a deli, you'd have to be 18. But to use that same kind of circular saw on a farm, you could be 16," she says.

Employers in construction must provide protections from falling for workers who are performing tasks at heights over six feet. On farms, however, children 16 and over can work at any height with nothing to protect them from falling, Wurth says.
These double standards are unacceptable. There is bountiful evidence that this must be changed, and I am very much with the democratic representatives on this sub-topic. Having higher standards for working conditions in America is a big priority. However, this doesn’t address the real issue concerning 12- 13- year olds working on farms today: why raise the minimum age? After this brief introduction that has little to do with how she presents the real bill, the arguments that the left presents show themselves for the biased straw men that they are:
But due to a carveout with origins in the Jim Crow South, children can be hired to work on farms starting at age 12, for any number of hours as long as they don't miss school.

. . . 

At a hearing last fall, agricultural policy attorney Kristi Boswell, who grew up on farm and later served in President Trump's agriculture department, warned that traditions held families like her own would be threatened.
Thank you for the distinction, but i think im good on the obvious and ill-disguised polarization. Sneaking words like, “Jim Crow South” into an article is a manipulative way to slip into the audience’s subconscious, and it doesn't belong in any article that makes it a goal to educate the masses. The words “any number of hours” hints at an overnight third shift, which isn’t necessarily true. The goal of adding these unnecessary words is not to inform at all- it is to inadvertently influence the most likely left-leaning listener to shy away from things associated with Trump and Jim Crow, and therefore naturally agree with the quiet message of this article. 

Furthermore, this blatant bias becomes even more obvious in this work when the author forgets to include any good arguments from “the other side” of this debate, with multiple paragraphs of useless filler argument from Kristi Boswell’s testimony that does little to nothing for the case, and a grand total of 1 paragraph devoted to a real argument at the very end that is resolved with a “Still.” What a burner.
"My niece and nephews would not have been able to detassel corn at ages 12 and 13, despite their parents knowing they were mature enough to handle the job," Boswell said in her testimony.
    Only briefly, I would like to pick apart what I see in this argument as being invalid, so that you as viewer may be able to in turn pick apart my own arguments that I will present. To see the complete Boswell testimony, please click this link:

To start off, the argument that this bill would interrupt family proceedings and farm knowledge being lovingly passed down through the generations is immediately impossible in the revised version of the bill:
The provisions of section 12 relating to child labor shall not apply to any employee under 18 years of age who is employed in agriculture by his or her parent, or by a person standing in the place of the parent, on a farm owned by the parent or person.

Translation: none of this applies if you are just a kid on a farm learning the trade from your parents. 

    More than that, “their parents knowing they were mature enough to handle the job” is certainly a very flexible situation. This makes the assumption that parents understand their kids, and if anyone could be a testimony against that, it is a thirteen year old teen. Here I am, saying that that assumption is definitely not likely. On top of that, oftentimes “children” are naive to the cruelties embedded in society. As much as I hate to admit it, this gullibility is more often taken advantage of, even by their own parents, meaning that parents having control is no easy safety belt. 

A more accurate reflection of Boswell’s argument

What Boswell is trying to say in her argument is that depending on your situation, your level of maturity, your surroundings, you might be able to handle difficult equipment. On the one end of the scale, being strictly prohibited from a simple job that you know is easy feels degrading and disrespectful, while on the other end being forced into a job you aren't ready for is damaging and sometimes dangerous. This is part of what makes this bill so difficult to structure, but without a single youthful voice in the room speaking from real, concrete experience in these types of situations, all it is is a bunch of adults trying to understand a time so far away from their own that it may as well be dust flying around

Keeping the minimum age as is

    Firstly, I would like to point out that this article, while it does a great job in presenting an argument for the issues of hazardous equipment, displays no argument at all for heightening the age other than “Oh no! it's a double standard!” For this flimsy paper point, I will present three points of my own: disproving her argument, considering kids like me who want a little spending money, and accounting for people in poverty. If ever the United States congress figures out how to disprove or resolve these points, I will immediately write a retraction.
Disregarding the initial attempt at reason in this article

    To disprove the “Oh no! It's a double standard!” argument, we need first to take a look at the history of kids working on farms. Since it began with the native americans teaching the brits how to care for the land in a holy and gratuitous cycle of give and get, farming has been a trade passed down from generation to generation, through a time of bonding between parent and child. Learning how to run the tractors, how to “detassel corn” is a proud moment for the kids, it gives them opportunities to be responsible, to learn the value of good work, and understand deeper the cycle of give and take with the earth. Farm work is certainly very difficult, but it has a proud history, and this difficulty can be seen as a boon. There is a reason for this double standard: The intimately familial tradition that brings a farm to life. 

Furthermore, though it may be unprofessional, it's fine. We can't all get what we want. If a couple businesses are jealous, that's fine. Deal with it!

My personal experience on this issue

The next point I would like to argue is the reason that fueled me to write and publish this: my own independence. As it stands, I don't count as a person. It is legal for me to get beaten by my parents, to have my freedom of speech silenced, and to be stolen from by my immediate family. Maybe instead of limiting my independence and making me more vulnerable in many ways and less vulnerable in one way, you could grant me my constitutional rights? The institutions of our democracy betray me, my generation, and people my age at every turn. Schools are prisons to house future 9-5 brain-dead zombies, juvie is condemnation, and the foster system is a damning curse. This doesn't stop at limiting my source of spending money. These issues are obviously not on the same level, but the argument still applies: I am a person, and I want to be respected.

Understanding the goal

Andrea Hsu leaves one good argument that goes unresolved.
"These are Latinx children and their families who are working in the fields because they're living in extreme poverty," she [Margaret Wurth] says.   

 . . .

Even if it passes, Wurth says the CARE Act might not end child labor in agriculture. Many families depend on the income of their children. Absent a living wage and accessible child care, cutting off that source of income could hurt their family's livelihood.

Still, Wurth says the bill would set a foundation for tackling the issue.
These latinex families won't be helped by you prohibiting their work and pretending that the “issue” of immigration is a real topic that is up for debate, when anyone with a pair of eyes and a pinch of brain cells could see that they run our country, but that is beside the point. Our policy workers are lost, and the issue that you should be tackling is poverty, or the foster care system, or the prison system, or climate change, or anything else. “Still” is not a solution. To say “nevertheless” and expect to win the debate certainly not professional. You would lose. Until our representatives present a solution to these issues of child care, poverty, immigration, child abuse, and minimum wage, they need to leave this “issue” alone.

    It feels too me that while the democratic representatives claim to be on the imagrant children’s side, they are doing more harm than help. Which would you rather: you and your family starve, prohibited from work or working in a potentially unsafe job that does not pay well? Neither is a good option, but it seems to me that some money is better than none. To truly help these children, give them citizenship instead of starvation.

Argument from

“Working in agriculture as a child can result in an early end to childhood, and long hours worked at unfair and unlawful wages can pose risks to their overall health and lives.” 
Some of us are sick of childhood. Every time I bring up an issue of a transgression against me by the government, my own father’s response is “you don't have constitutional rights.” I am done with childhood, and understandably so. What, are you scared of us growing up finally? Getting educated, learning how to run ourselves, conduct ourselves? I think that somebody here certainly needs to grow up, and it isn't me.