José Velásquez Castellano started working in agriculture when he was 13 years old. Ten-hour days, five or six days a week, in North Carolina’s summer heat. It was sometimes blueberries, sometimes cucumbers — but mostly, it was tobacco.
“Its prime hits right at the peak of summer,” Castellano told NPR, and the tobacco created a greenhouse effect. It would be 90 degrees outside, “but inside those fields, it feels like well over 100 degrees.”
He’d go home dehydrated and exhausted and then wake up at 4 a.m. the next day and do it again.
Child labor violations are on the rise as some states look to loosen their rules
For children 12 and older in the United States, difficult, low-paying and dangerous work in tobacco fields for unlimited hours is legal, as long as it’s outside school hours. Child labor laws are more lenient in agriculture than in other industries, and efforts to change that have repeatedly failed, leaving growers and companies to decide whether to set the bar higher than what’s legally required of them. In the meantime, kids work, often trying to help their families make ends meet.
— Read on www.npr.org/2023/04/17/1168824035/child-labor-tobacco-legal-dangerous