Summer’s end signals the beginning of a new school year and the harvest of autumnal crops.  Unfortunately, for some children, farm work proves a considerable and often insurmountable obstacle to achieving academic and career goals.  Labor laws allow children as young as 12 to work on farms with their parents or with parental permission outside of school hours.   Prolonged exposure to sun, heat and pesticides and hard manual labor can have lifelong consequences for these young workers.   Since farm workers’ wages are extremely low and labor laws do not restrict the number of hours children can work, school attendance is often poor and the dropout rate is high.  States have made efforts to promote the education of young farm workers, particularly of migrant farmers who must adjust to several new schools each year, but many children remain underserved, regardless of their legal status. Justice demands that those who feed us be given a living wage and that children’s welfare be legally protected. “Lifting up the poor” — the great work of God Mary celebrated in her Magnificat — requires our attention.