Every year, more than 400,000 American children are torn away from their friends, schools and homes to pick the food we all eat. The Harvest/La Cosecha profiles the torrid journey of Zulema, Perla, and Victor from the scorching heat of Texas’ onion fields to the winter snows of the Michigan apple orchards, and back South to the humidity of Florida’s tomato fields, to follow the harvest. We learn how these three young people labor as migrant farm workers, sacrificing their own childhoods to help their families survive.
La Cosecha/The Harvest tells the stories of Zulema, Perla and Victor; only three of the estimated 400,000 American child migrant farm workers who are torn away from their friends, schools and homes to pick the food we all eat. The conditions they live in are extremely difficult. They earn no overtime and no sick days and often do not even receive a minimum wage. From the age of 12 or younger, their family’s necessity forces them to work in all weather extremes. They are exposed to hazardous pesticides in what is the most dangerous occupation for minors in the United States of America.
This is legal in America because the Fair Labor Standards Act, enacted in 1938, is a federal statute that introduced better labor conditions like the maximum 44-hour, seven-day work week, established a national minimum wage, guaranteed “time and a half” for overtime in certain jobs, and prohibited most employment of minors in “oppressive child labor.” However, this act excluded agriculture and thus left thousands of children unprotected.