29 CFR 780.312 - “Hand harvest laborer” defined.
(a) The term hand harvest laborer for purposes of this exemption refers to farm workers engaged in harvesting by hand, or with hand tools, soil grown crops such as cotton, tobacco, grains, fruits, and vegetables. The term would not include harvesting operations performed by an employee with an electrically powered mechanical device, such as a “blueberry picking tool.” “Hand-harvesting” refers only to soil-grown crops and does not include any operation involving animals, such as shearing or lambing of sheep and catching chickens. Hand-harvesting is defined as manually gathering or severing the crop from the soil, stems, or roots at its growing position in the fields. Included are integral related operations, closely related geographically and in point of time, which are performed before the transportation to concentration points on the farm.
(1) Employees who take tobacco leaves from the pickers and string them on poles by hand qualify as “hand harvest laborers” because the stringing operation is performed in the field almost simultaneously with the picking and before transportation to the concentration point on the farm (drying shed).
(2) The picking up of tomatoes by hand after hand pulling from the vines is “hand-harvesting,” as it is performed where the crop is severed and prior to its transportation to the packing shed.
(b) The definition is limited to harvesting, and the performance by the hand harvester of any nonharvesting operation in the same workweek would cause the loss of the section 13(a)(6)(C) exemption.
(1) Employees who wrap tomatoes in a packing shed would not qualify, as the wrapping is a nonharvesting operation. (Schultz v. Durrence (S.D. Ga.) 63 CCH. Lab. Cas. 32,387; 19 W.H. Cases 747.)
(2) Employees who hand pick small undesirable fruit prior to harvesting in order to insure a better crop would not qualify for the exemption. This is a preharvest culling operation performed as a part of the cultivation and growing operations not harvesting.
(3) Employees who chop cotton, since this is a nonharvesting operation.