Peach Farmers Reminded Of Labor Laws Before Oklahoma Festivals

Thursday, June 23rd 2016, 8:26 pm
By: Amy Slanchik

Local peaches are ripening early this year, and farmers are prepping for festivals coming up in a few weeks.

The U.S. Department of Labor says it's a good time for farmers and workers to make sure they're following federal laws.

Kent Livesay and Livesay Orchards are preparing for the 50th annual Porter Peach Festival.

"This is our 50th year; also, our first summer in the peach business was also the first peach festival," he said.

With about 10,000 peach trees, someone has got to pick all those peaches.

"The crop itself is running early this year, so we're further into the season than what we normally would be at this point in June," Livesay said.

Livesay Orchards hires about 30 employees for the peak of the season. And while many of them are local, some come from out of the country.

"My father helped a lot of the people. A lot of them became legalized to work here in 1986, under a seasonal agriculture program back then, under President Reagan," he said.

His wife, Dawna Livesay, said, right now, they have about 12 employees from Mexico, who are not U.S. citizens.

Thursday, she met with Natalie Collins, with the Department of Labor, for an outreach event to make sure she understands all the federal laws, but the regulations go beyond legal documentation.

"It gets very hot in Oklahoma, so I would encourage employers to be aware of their obligation to provide the cold drinking water to their workers in the fields," Collins said.

The government says the goal is to educate employers, and Livesay said he appreciates the reminders as he prepares for the festival.

The Porter Peach Festival will take place July 14th through the 16th.