“Every time you eat a salad, you eat a vegetable, you’ve got to have in mind that, maybe, they’ve been harvested by children”. These words haven’t been uttered by a furious NGO director, but by actress Eva Longoria, who, for years, has been fighting against child labor in US agriculture.
Today, there are several hundreds of thousands children working in the fields 12 to 14 hours a day, 5 to 7 days a week for low wages. They’re maybe as many as 800.000, sometimes as young as 10 years old, and often of hispanic origin.
Behind the incredibly efficient production, the first in the world, an inhuman agriculture is hiding, ready for anything to remain competitive. Including stumping on the most elementary human rights : exposure to pesticides, labour without protective gloves, not enough water or toilets, lack of schooling, and even sometimes sexual abuses. The children working in the fields have four times more risks to die while at work than in other jobs. In 2012, amendements to the existing laws were supposed to improve the conditions, but the reality has still to catch up — thanks to the all powerful agriculture lobbies.
In North Carolina, Saray, 11 and her family are field workers, who travel in the south and harvest fields, with the whole community and the team leader. This report follows their daily life.
[Report for Grazia, october 2012]