Lawmakers are meeting this month to discuss illegal child labor in agriculture

House ag lawmakers are holding closed-door talks this week on illegal child labor in the ag sector. The discussions will include legal experts as well as leaders in the meat processing industry, and those talks are expected to include some tough questions.

During a Farm Bill markup last month, one lawmaker introduced an amendment that would keep USDA from contracting with meatpackers using illegal child labor. It was voted down because committee leaders said it was filed too late, but they promised the conversation would continue.

Committee Chair GT Thompson says tough questions will be asked, and it will allow the committee to get background on the issues. The group will then examine if a public hearing is needed.

Just last month, investigators in Tennessee handed out hefty fines after two dozen children were found working in slaughter and meatpacking facilities. Last year, USDA sent letters to 18 of the largest meat and poultry processors, asking each of them to prevent or eliminate illegal child labor.