S. Utah • Companies used children from polygamous towns to pick pecans.
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The U.S. Department of Labor says it has reached an agreement with companies using children from polygamous communities to pick pecans.
But none of the sides are saying whether that means children from the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints will no longer work on the farms. The announcement from the Labor Department on Friday only says farm managers have agreed "to take steps to prevent any future violations."
The Labor Department began investigating Southern Utah Pecan Ranch after a CNN report in December showing children working in pecan groves near Hurricane.
Utah labor law exempts agricultural work from age limitations, but the news release states that violations of the Fair Labor and Standards Act may still have occurred. The investigation also looked at Hildale-based Paragon Contractors Corp., which had contracted with the ranch. The investigation is ongoing, and the news release said the companies may still have to pay fines or penalties if they are assessed.
An employee of Paragon Contractors Corp. who answered a call from The Tribune said that the business had no comment on the agreement. The employee did not provide his name. However, the release states that Paragon has previously been cited and penalized for violating child labor laws.
Representatives for Southern Utah Pecan Ranch could not be reached Friday afternoon.