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National FFA Organization
National FFA president testifies at Senate committee regarding creation of 2012 Farm Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Thursday, March 15, 2012/National FFA Organization) – The National FFA Organization represented by its president testified today before a U.S. Senate committee, encouraging government to support crucial farm bill programs that strengthen agricultural education while promoting leadership development and encouraging students to pursue careers in the agriculture industry.
Ryan Best, 21, who is National FFA president for 2011-12, spoke at the Senate Agriculture Committee Hearing on Risk Management and Commodities for the 2012 Farm Bill. Originally from Portales, N.M., Best is a junior at New Mexico State University majoring in agricultural and extension education.
“It is understandable if some believe that members of FFA come primarily from rural farming communities and small towns. But that is not accurate,” he said. “Today’s FFA is as diverse as today’s agriculture. We are reaching nontraditional agricultural education students in rural, suburban and urban communities, including New York, Philadelphia, Houston and Chicago.”
Best went on to enlighten the committee about the importance and relevance of both FFA and agricultural education in today’s world and how both are developing highly skilled individuals capable of leadership roles in tomorrow’s industry.
“FFA and agricultural education are helping students establish successful careers within the industry. Agriculture teachers and FFA advisors continue to mentor and provide ongoing assistance to their students even after they leave the classroom,” Best said. “Many successful people in agriculture cite the influential role of their agriculture teacher in preparing them for career success. All of this suggests that both FFA and agricultural education have a major role to play in ensuring our nation has the producers, researchers, entrepreneurs and innovators to meet the challenges we face.”
Last year, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack asked the 2010-11 National FFA officer team to provide him with their input for Farm Bill discussions. After consulting with FFA members and stakeholders, the officer team met with Vilsack in December to discuss its recommendations. According to the team, the U.S. Department of Agriculture should:
- Along with other federal agencies encourage and assist beginning farmers to start or continue in production agriculture;
- Help transition farms from older-related and non-related farmers to younger or beginning farmers who may not come from a farm;
- Help keep young people in rural communities and make rural communities an even more important part of our nation’s economy and society; and
- Strengthen the capacity of agricultural education to produce more students that pursue production agriculture and other agriculturally related careers.
“I underscore the productive asset that FFA and agricultural education have been to American agriculture for 85 years,” Best said in his closing remarks. “We believe it is in the best interest of the nation for the Department of Agriculture to affirm its commitment to develop strong, experienced leadership for agricultural education. The National FFA Organization is prepared to assist in every way possible. Given the challenges facing American and global systems of agriculture, an investment must be made for tomorrow. Future generations are counting on continuing sources of safe, affordable, nutritious and abundant food and renewable energy produced sustainably and in harmony with our highest national interests. The next Farm Bill provides an opportunity for Congress and USDA to demonstrate that they, like FFA members, believe in the future of agriculture with a faith born not of words but of deeds.”
The National FFA Organization provides agricultural education to 540,379 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,489 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Photos available here
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About National FFA Organization
The National FFA Organization is a national youth organization of 540,379 student members as part of 7,489 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online (http://www.FFA.org), on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/nationalFFA), on Twitter (http://twitter.com/nationalFFA) and FFA Nation (http://FFAnation.FFA.org).