"I started working full time when I was 12, but I'd been working in fields since third grade. There's no daycare out [there], so parents bring their kids ... [The kids] start by bringing buckets, water, picking up apples that had fallen off the tree. Casual, light stuff. And they gradually do more and more. It's not uncommon to meet kids who have been working since they were able to walk."
The next developmental milestone is filling out a W-2.
These are migrant farm workers, traveling from one job site to the next with their parents, going where the work is. Norma reported seeing kids as young as seven out in the fields, learning the virtues of soul-grinding menial labor instead of wasting their time playing with their friends or going to school. If you're wondering how these farmers avoid getting busted by the feds, it's because there's nothing to be busted for: according to the U.S. Department of Labor, it's totally okay for children as young as six to toil away in the harsh, unforgiving elements, helping harvest your food with their tiny little hands. Some states have set more strict rules, but still, some 500,000 kids work in American fields every year.
You're welcome to scoff and say that it's good for these kids to get some exercise and learn the value of hard work, but keep in mind there's a reason no other industry allows this. Federal labor laws generally set the minimum work age at 16, and there are a whole bunch of restrictions on how many hours those kids can work and, say, how much poison they can legally inhale in a day. However, farm work is exempt from all these pesky regulations, because it's traditional, and lawmakers are still imagining a wholesome Normal Rockwell scene in which a farmer and his son get up at dawn to milk the cows together.
Case in point: this is what Getty kicked back for "child farm labor."