It is legal in North Carolina for children as young as 10 to work in agriculture. A bill to raise the minimum age to 13, unless children are working on their family farm, has stalled in the Legislature.
According to the documentary Uprooted Innocence, almost half a million children are working in fields in the U.S. While the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 sets the minimum working age at 14, the law allows children ages 12–14 to work in the agricultural industry as accompanied minors or with parental consent. According to Carol Brooke, a lawyer with the NC Justice Center specializing in child labor laws and policy, it is legal in North Carolina for children as young as 10 to be a paid employee in agriculture. They can work as long as 14 hours a day.
For the past 10 years, the NC Justice Center, FAN and Toxic Free NC have asked Labor Commissioner Berry to meet formally, say their representatives. Last week, the commissioner, who is up for re-election this year, agreed to meet April 3.
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