Filmmaker SusanMacLaury: Protections For Farmworker Children Matter More Than Ever (Link to Free Film Screening during the last week of March 2024))

By Susan MacLaury, March 23, 2024  –

In 2010, Shine Global released the feature-length documentary, The Harvest (La Cosecha), about three young migrant farmworkers – Zulema, Perla and Victor -who traveled across the US with their families harvesting several crops. They lived in substandard housing, worked without minimum wage protections, and routinely missed weeks of school which severely affected their academic performance.

The Harvest was Shine Global’s second film. Given the success of our first – War/Dance – I erroneously assumed that finding the funds to make it would be no problem. I was wrong. It wasn’t until actor/social activist Eva Longoria joined us as an Executive Producer of the film that we were able to complete it. Eva was already supporting the efforts of Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez, and was a champion for farmworkers. Eva and her colleagues raised 80% of the film’s funding through generous donors.

She not only helped financially, but also joined us in DC to host a screening of the film for members of Congress where she supported passage of the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment in Agriculture (CARE) Act, authored by then representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA). The bill would have amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), significantly increasing protections for child farm workers by “bringing the age and work hour standards set under FLSA for all other forms of child labor.”  Rep. Roybal-Allard brought this bill to committee multiple times over the years but it never made it to the floor for a vote.

Reform was needed then. It is needed now.

Since 2015, US child labor violations have increased 300% and in the last 3 years alone instead of protecting children, 28 states have sought to roll back child labor laws. In response to this, Shine Global has joined more than 50 organizations in the Campaign to End US Child Labor to call for urgent reform to protect children from dangerous exploitation in the workplace.

Last week (March 21, 2024), Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) has picked up the mantle and introduced the CARE Act of 2024 to increase  civil and criminal monetary penalties for violations and provide greater protection for workers of all ages to pesticide exposure. A similar House bill now has 45 co-sponsors. Please reach out to your legislators to let them know your opinion and urge them to protect children working in agriculture.

Shine Global is proud to screen “The Harvest (La Cosecha)” for free online for National Farmworker Awareness Week, March 25-31. Audiences can register at this link to watch the film at any point during the week (ending March 31, 2024)to learn more about the conditions for farmworker children and why they urgently need to be protected. Shine Global has created accompanying multi-disciplinary curriculum for grades 7-12 and community discussion guides that are free to download from our website: