Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 ("Farm Bill")
On June 18, 2008, Congress passed the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 ("Farm Bill"). Section 3205 (b) of this law established a Consultative Group to Eliminate the Use of Child Labor and Forced Labor in Imported Agricultural Products, composed of 13 members and chaired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The mandate of this Consultative Group was to "develop recommendations relating to guidelines to reduce the likelihood that agricultural products or commodities imported into the United States are produced with the use of forced labor and child labor."
The law assigns several specific duties to USDA and the Department of Labor (DOL), as detailed below.
USDA chaired the Group, and ensured that the following goals are achieved:
- Section 3205 (c)(1): "... as applicable to the importation of agricultural products made with the use of child labor or forced labor, the Consultative Group shall develop, and submit to the Secretary, recommendations relating to a standard set of practices for independent, third-party monitoring and verification for the production, processing, and distribution of agricultural products or commodities to reduce the likelihood that agricultural products or commodities imported into the United States are produced with the use of forced labor or child labor."
- Section 3205 (c)(2)(A): "Not later than 1 year after the date on which the Secretary receives recommendations under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall release guidelines for a voluntary initiative to enable entities to address issues raised by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000."
- Section 3205 (h): Through 2012, reports must be submitted annually to Congress describing the activities and recommendations of the Consultative Group.
The law's specific mandates for DOL's Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) are:
- Section 3205 (d)(2): "Membership in the Group will include the Deputy Under Secretary for International Affairs."
- Section 3205 (d)(5):"2 members shall represent institutions of higher education and research institutions, as determined appropriate by [ILAB]."
- Section 3205 (d)(7): "3 members shall represent [non-profit organizations] that have expertise on the issues of international child labor and do not possess a conflict of interest associated with establishment of the guidelines issued under subsection (c)(2), as determined by [ILAB], including representatives from consumer organizations and trade unions, if appropriate."