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DOL on its Proposed Child-Safety Rules for U.S. Agriculture

In September 2011, the Department of Labor proposed a rule to increase protections for workers age 15 and younger who are employed in agriculture. There are many misconceptions about how the rule would affect young agricultural workers. Deputy Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division Nancy Leppink answers three pressing questions about it.

Why was this rule proposed? “Studies show that young workers are significantly more likely to die or suffer a serious injury while performing agricultural work than in any other industry. Agricultural workers ages 15-17 have a risk of fatality that is four times greater than that of the average 15- to 17-year-old. The proposed rule targets the tasks that are most likely to result in death or serious injury.”

How would the rule affect small family farms? “The proposed rule would not affect children working on family farms owned by their parents. A child of any age may perform any job at any time on a farm owned by his or her parent. A child of any age may perform any job on a farm operated, but not owned, by his or her parent, but only outside of school hours.”

Would the rule prohibit all agricultural work for minors? “The department recognizes the valuable role of agricultural work in promoting a sense of responsibility and stewardship for the nation’s land and animals. There will be many opportunities for children under the age of 16 to work on farms, just as they have done for decades, but the rule would restrict hired farmworkers under the age of 16 from performing specific tasks that have killed or injured a disproportionate number of young workers in the past.” Read the rest

New Attention Given to Child Cocoa Workers in Ivory Coast and Ghana

25 October 2010
Children living in a cocoa-producing village near the town of Oume, Ivory Coast
Photo: AP

Children living in a cocoa-producing village near the town of Oume, Ivory Coast

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This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Chocolate comes from cocoa beans, and more than half of those beans come from two countries in West Africa. But the situation is not all sweetness for poor cocoa farmers in Ivory Coast and neighboring Ghana. The United States has announced ten million dollars for renewed efforts to end the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa industry in those countries.

The grant will support efforts to reduce poverty so parents do not have to depend on the labor of their children. Another aim is to give children more access to education.

The money will go toward a new “Framework of Action” related to an international agreement from two thousand one. That agreement is called the Harkin-Engel Protocol. American Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Elliott Engel led negotiations with the chocolate and cocoa industries.

The Department of Labor announced the grant in September, along with seven million dollars promised by the international cocoa industry. The governments of Ghana and Ivory Coast have also promised resources and policy support for the new efforts.

Kevin Willcutts is an official in the Labor Department’s Office of Child Labor.

KEVIN WILLCUTTS: “We’re at a point in time when we think we have a real opportunity because with the signing of this joint declaration, the parties are coming together and saying that we share a common commitment to address the situation and to offer children better hope for the future through education.”

Daan de Vries is with Utz Certified, a program that tries to create a fair marketplace for agricultural products.… Read the rest

Governments Look to End Child Labor in West African Cocoa Farming

Malian children demonstrate against child labor in Sikasso, Mali. Sikasso is the point of departure for children going to work in the Ivorian cocoa,
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U.S. Department of Labor and Chocolate industry commit $17 million to combat child labor in West Africa

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