What great news we received on April 26, 2012 that the U.S. Department of Labor had decided to withdraw the proposed rulemaking related to child labor regulations for children working in production agriculture under the Fair Labor Standards Act! This is a textbook example of how advocacy efforts can be successful when an entire profession comes together on a common purpose.
So many agricultural educators, and supporters of agricultural education, have sent notes of appreciation and phone calls to Kent Schescke, National FFA Organization, and me for our work on this issue. And, we're grateful for the thanks. However, the main reason we were successful in getting the U.S. Secretary of Labor to withdraw the proposed rulemaking in its entirety is because agriculture came together on this issue. It is the combined efforts of the National FFA Organization, NAAE, American Farm Bureau, many other ag-related organizations, the United States Congress, and others that led to this decision from the Labor Department and the Obama Administration.
So, it is my honor to take this opportunity to thank all agricultural educators, supporters of agricultural education, and others who made the choice to get involved in this important issue. We won one! And, that's great! But, we won because we joined together to make this happen.
The comments I provided to the Department of Labor during the comment period carried no more weight than the comments you provided. The phone calls I made to the offices of my members of the United States Congress carried no more weight than the calls you made to the offices of your members of the US Congress. Kent and I can provide you with information and we can carry our profession's key messages to national leaders in places of influence. But, it is the grassroots involvement of hundreds, no thousands, of us that truly makes the difference and causes change to occur.
So, as we celebrate this "victory," let's not forget how this victory came about. And, let's make the choice to get involved in being advocates for agricultural education by communicating key messages about the successes of our local programs with persons of influence at local, state, and national levels. Only by acting together as a profession can we advocate truly and effectively for agricultural education.
Now, our hope is that we, as a profession, will be able to work with the United States Departments of Labor/Education/Agriculture, and the American Farm Bureau, and other ag-related groups to develop new guidelines to ensure child safety when working in production agriculture. We are eager to work with these national groups to contribute to reasonable efforts to keep kids safe while working on farms and ranches. We may be calling on you for your input as this process continues.