U.S. Representative Ral Grijalva, along with fellow Representative Raul Ruiz of California, introduced the Childrens Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety (CARE) Act of 2023 on June 12. The act would raise national labor standards for farmworker children to the same level set for children in all other occupations.
Agriculture is the only industry with labor laws that allow children as young as 12 to work with virtually no restrictions on the number of hours they spend in the fields outside of school.
According to the National Childrens Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, every day, 33 children are injured while working on U.S. farms. Whats more, a recent GAO report found that more than half of work-related fatalities for children happen in the agriculture sector.
To address this, the
would bring age and work hour standards for children in agriculture up to the standards for children working in all other industries. Among its other provisions, the bill would also establish a minimum penalty for child labor violations, increase the maximum civil monetary penalties and maximum criminal penalties for child labor violations, and provide children with greater protection against pesticide exposure.
Farmworkers and their children are some of the most unfairly exploited laborers in our nation. They deserve legal protections, better working conditions, and higher workplace standards to protect their health and safety, Grijalva said in a news release.
Its a moral imperative that we update our antiquated labor laws to give children working in agriculture the same protections and rights provided to everyone in the workforce. Thats why Im proud to reintroduce this legislation with Rep. Ruiz to protect farmworkers and their kids from southern Arizona to California and beyond, said Grijalva.
Grijalva is the District 7 representative in Arizona.