On January 20, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke at the National FFA Foundation Sponsors’ Board Meeting in Washington, DC. During his speech, Secretary Vilsack issued a challenge to the National FFA Organization through the Officers.
“I would like for you (speaking directly to the officers) to work with your fellow students and the adult leadership of the organization to develop a series of recommendations around the upcoming Farm Bill that will encourage more young people to pursue careers in farming. Over the next few years we will need 100,000 new farmers and I am looking to you for ideas, guidance and suggestions to help make that happen. If you do this in a serious thoughtful manner (which I know you will do) I will make myself and all of my Under Secretaries available to hear this report. So that we can utilize this information to guide our input to Congress, I would like to have your report to me one year from today.”
This is an opportunity that FFA must take advantage of. Never before has the organization had an opportunity to provide direct input to the Secretary of Agriculture or members of Congress on ideas, suggestions and policies around the farm bill that could benefit FFA members and strengthen FFA and agricultural education.
Do you have an FFA member living with you? Please discuss the following questions with them and encourage them to provide input here.
The questions posed are as follows:
1. How can USDA help strengthen the capacity of agricultural education to produce more students with an interest in pursuing production agriculture (farming) and other agricultural related careers?
2. What authority, responsibility or support should USDA provide for school-based agricultural education and FFA?
3. What authority, responsibility or support should USDA provide for school-based agricultural education and FFA?
4. What assistance can be provided to help keep young people in rural communities and rural communities to be an even more important part of our nation’s economy and society?
5. What incentives or assistance can or should agencies like USDA provide to young and beginning farmers that will encourage them to start or continue in production agriculture?
6. What assistance or role could or should USDA in helping the transition of farms from older non-related farmers to younger or beginning farmers who may not come from a farm themselves?