Around the world, children as young as five years old work in agriculture. In the United States it is estimated that over 400,000 children work in the fields that feed America.  During the peak season, farmworker children work 10+ hour days for between six and seven days a week – often exposed to harsh pesticides, extreme heat, sharp knives, scissors and heavy machinery.


Over the years, AFOP’s Children In the Fields Campaign (CIFC) has been working strongly in conjunction with the Child Labor Coalition to advocate for federal policies that would strengthen child labor laws so that children in agriculture are just as protected as those in other industries.


Although child labor laws are steadily improving, CIFC still sees the urgent need to prevent exposing farmworker children to pesticides while in the fields and at home. Through our network of trainers across the United States, we provide pesticide safety training to farmworker children using an interactive curriculum which engages and educates through storytelling.


While the CIFC provides this training to children as well as advocating on their behalf, we believe that farmworker children themselves have a powerful story to tell. We offer that opportunity through our annual Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Essay and Art Contests. Every year we receive hundreds of inspiring entries from around the nation, and this year was no exception.


This year’s theme was “Growing Up in the Fields that Feed America”. Thanks to the support of many organizations and the Kellogg Foundation, we had over 150 wonderful entries from farmworker children between the ages of 10 and 18 from around the country.  All winners received a monetary award, but first-place winners also had the opportunity to attend AFOP’s 2017 National Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.  There they showcased their creative talents and shared their personal stories of what it really means to grow up in the fields that feed America.


10-9-16 CIFC Contest Winners MF photo2

Photo: Richard Roe, Kentucky Farmworker Programs, Inc.


Despite all the challenges farmworker children face, the contest allows us every year to learn more about their dreams and hopes for a brighter future.  The CIFC will continue working arduously to see the necessary changes in child labor laws for agricultural workers, and to continue the improvement of health and safety among farmworker children.


To see winner’s entries please visit:

For more information please contact Melanie Forti, CIFC Director at


Additional References:

International Labour Organization

Human Rights Watch

U.S. Department of Labor