Child labour in United States big agribusiness


This video from Bangalore in India says about itself:

I just took my camera went arround the city searching for some child labour footage.. but I found more than I can handle. This social and economic issue should stop.. please leave your comments on this issue..

P.S: I had to shoot most of footage from a hidden camera or hiding from a distant place.. so the video is kinda shaky please bear with me.

From Democracy NOW! in the USA:

Blueberry Farming Giant Found to Use Child Labor at Michigan Fields

An ABC News investigation has exposed how one of the country’s largest blueberry growers uses child labor on its fields. Adkin Blue Ribbon Packing Company in South Haven, Michigan is at the center of this scandal. Wal-Mart and the Kroger supermarket were among Adkin’s high-profile customers that have now cut ties with the blueberry grower. We speak to ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross and Teresa Hendricks of Michigan Migrant Legal Aid.

This is about “Children as Young as 5 and 6“.

ABC video on this is here.

This Summer, Farmworkers’ Kids Skip Classroom for Fields. Claudi Nunez, New America Media: “Bent over amongst the strawberry and grape harvests, dozens of children work on California farms. The Migrant Education Program (MEP), the division of the U.S. Department of Education that focuses on the children of migrant workers, estimates that U.S. schools lost 20,000 students this year to the fields… Americans are unaware of the exploitation faced by children in the fields and find it difficult to believe that the United States employs child labor in the fields, said Reid Maki, coordinator of the Child Labor Coalition”: here.

Chris Hedges, Truthdig: “The agricultural industry has a death rate nearly six times higher than most other industries, and the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that of the 2 million farmworkers in the United States 300,000 suffer pesticide poisoning every year. But this may change as one of the most important battles in the history of migrant labor is launched by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). If this battle succeeds it will nearly double the wages of the farmworkers who labor in the $600 million tomato-growing industry”: here.

11 thoughts on “Child labour in United States big agribusiness

  1. By the way, I can’t speak highly enough about Brownfemipower. She’s a working class woman of color, married with children but essentially queer. She has an academic background but she lives in the Midwest, far away from the centers of white middle class feminist thought. She has a fine mind and a kind, good and angry heart. She is someone I have come to admire.

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  2. Hi Jon, the basic issue here is capitalists like Adkin Blue Ribbon Packing Company super-exploiting workers, helped by the government imposed “illegal” status of some immigrants and the racism against most immigrants. That means no living wage for adult workers. And then, the “helpful” capitalists say: “well, the solution to that is us “super-super-exploiting” your five-year old child as well.”

    The real solution is fighting for higher wages for adult workers, so that children will be able to learn and play, instead of getting tired while bosses’ foremen scream at them for supposedly working not fast enough. As happened before on issues like this in labour movement history in many countries.

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  3. Higher wages of course, but BFP is talking about a culture of family work that she grew up in and views very differently from ‘child labor’. The media coverage of the issue said nothing about improving wages, it just proposed that children need to be separated from their parents and kept out of the fields. I think BFP was right in claiming that it effectively demonized workers and small farmers.

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  4. Hi Jon, I think that BFP is right in criticizing corporate medium ABC (how about Democracy NOW! which can hardly be called a Rightist corporate medium?).

    However, I think I missed the issue of agribusiness capitalism in her blog posts on Adkin Blue Ribbon. “A culture of family work” on a small family owned farm in Latin America is something very different from five-year olds working on the fields owned by Big Business in the USA. If only because presumably in Latin America the children don’t get sick from the pesticides in Adkin Blue Ribbon fields. On your own small farm, you decide how long and how fast you and your children work (though under capitalist world market pressure if it is not sustenance farming). At Adkin Blue Ribbon, the Adkin Blue Ribbon fat cats and their foremen etc. decide.

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  5. Just to further clarify, BFP is FROM Michigan and grew up working specifically at places like the Adkins farm. Her concern was that the coverage did not speak to any solutions for farm workers but rather viewed them from a distance as a subject of pity or charity.

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  6. Hi Jon, though BFP apparently was born in Michigan, many of the workers at Adkin Blue Ribbon now are not. Their, in many cases, Latin American small farm traditions of “family work” are perversely used against them by Adkin Blue Ribbon and similar capitalists. As I said, I agree with BFP criticizing ABC. Being a corporate medium, one can hardly expect them to propose “any solutions for farm workers”.

    Some solutions which might be suggested: in the long run, collectivisation of the fields of Adkin Blue Ribbon and similar capitalists. In the short run, higher adult wages, sufficient for families to live decently. And shorter working hours, so that workers will be able to spend more time with their children. And/or: giving the workers the possibility to bring their children to the fields, if they and the children want that. NOT for the children to be super-super-exploited and be yelled at by foremen, but on the sidelines of the fields, so that contact with parents is possible. A creche for children close to work, paid for by the bosses. Etc.

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  7. Somalia to join child rights pact, only U.S. outside

    Reuters

    Fri Nov 20, 1:14 pm ET

    GENEVA (Reuters) – Somalia has announced it plans to ratify a global treaty aimed at protecting children, leaving the United States as the only country outside the pact, UNICEF said Friday.

    Somalia and the United States have long been the last hold-outs to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly exactly 20 years ago.

    The most widely ratified international human rights treaty, it declares that those under 18 years old must be protected from violence, exploitation, discrimination and neglect.

    “Adherence to and application of the Convention will be of crucial importance for the children of Somalia, who are gravely affected by the ongoing conflict, recurrent natural disasters and chronic poverty,” the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a statement welcoming the move.

    In 2002, Somalia’s previous transitional government signed the Convention, which the United States also signed under President Bill Clinton in 1995, but neither has ratified it.

    UNICEF said Somalia’s transitional government had told it the “Somali cabinet of ministers has agreed in principle to ratify the Convention on the rights of the Child.”

    UNICEF director Ann Veneman, who was agriculture secretary under U.S. President George W. Bush, told reporters Thursday that it was “frustrating” that Washington had not adopted the pact. But she said there were some “technical” reasons behind the U.S. decision to remain outside it.

    Among these is Washington’s policy of considering one human rights treaty at a time.

    UNICEF spokeswoman Veronique Taveau told a news briefing in Geneva on Friday: “The United States has indicated that a very important review process is going on at the moment in order to arrive as quickly as possible at a ratification.”

    Mark Kornblau, a spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations in New York, said Thursday the administration of President Barack Obama was “committed to undertaking a thorough and thoughtful review of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.”

    (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau in New York; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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  8. Whose Future Is It?

    by Darvin Bentlage

    Missouri is now the home of more than 500 known Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) of 1,000 or more animal units.

    CAFOs are enormous barns that hold large numbers of animals (hogs or chickens) tightly compacted together. These animals never see the light of day and must be fed great amounts of antibiotics just to keep them alive. The waste manure from these facilities is in such large quantities that it is held in lagoons near the barns. The stench from these facilities is horrible and far reaching. The waste from the lagoons gravitates toward the ground water, often poisoning wells which are used for drinking water.

    Besides the 500 known CAFOs in Missouri there are numbers of non-permitted Animal feeding Operations of 999 or less animal units. Animal Units are how livestock is defined and is related to the amount of manure each species produces. While the large CAFOs are poorly regulated due to the EPA’s inability to properly investigate or enforce existing regulations, the small and medium Animal Feeding Operations pose an added risk. The accumulative effects of smaller operations with little accountability all on the same watershed as the large facilities is a recipe for environmental disaster.

    Continue reading Whose Future Is It? here:

    http://www.greenparty.org/newsletter/Mar2012/Bentlage.php

    Missouri residents: Make your voices heard to local officials: The Missouri Rural Crisis Center tells you how.

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  9. Pingback: More European unemployment and child labour | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  10. Pingback: Canadian child labour death | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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