Now, more than ever, technological and economic factors are changing the way Americans and people around the world view the importance of agriculture.
Scientific progress is continuing to generate new techniques to increase crop yields; improve animal health, reproduction, and growth; and develop new strategies to reduce production costs. Increasing international competition in food and fiber markets, including the U.S. food market, will force American agriculture and related industries to adapt and keep pace with technological advances and market opportunities.
Given the universal importance of food it is no exaggeration to assume that Agriculture is the foundation of what is increasingly becoming a global community. Today's most pressing issues; the environment, the national debt, international trade, and world health are all closely related to agriculture.
As in other areas of the world, particularly in Europe, agricultural-urban conflicts will continue to surface. Agriculture will become more regulated. Agriculture will operate as a part of society and will not be exempt as a "special case." Non-farm people will have more to say about the raising, processing, and safety of their food supply. Customers overseas will have more to say about America's food production and processing systems.
Focusing on Agricultural Issues has been developed as a special project of Team Ag Ed. We believe that agricultural issues should be taught as a means of discovering and supporting intelligent decisions, both for individuals and for society. The following instructional materials should teach the student how to analyze agricultural issues and to formulate propositions on those issues; it should teach the student how to construct arguments from evidence about the issues; it should instruct them in how to discover answers about how each problem became an issue. As investigators, students will use this process to discover the best belief to hold or best action to take on an issue. In addition, students will use these materials to present their findings to others in their community, however large or small, hoping ultimately to make others more aware about the issues facing agriculture.
It is our hope that this educational activity will help increase the awareness of agricultural issues among agriculture students and the "non-agriculture" public. This activity will also enhance the communication skills of FFA members as well as address the need for more information on agricultural issues.
The continued support of Elanco Animal Health, a Division of Eli Lilly in the revision of these materials is greatly appreciated. Initial funding for this project was provided by Elanco Animal Health, a Division of Eli Lilly, and Dow AgroSciences (formally DowElanco) with additional funding provided by Ciba; Monsanto Agricultural Company; ISK Biotech Corporation; Kaiser Agricultural Chemicals/Estech (Division of Vigoro Industries); Na-Churs Plant Food Company; and Terra International, Incorporated.
Jerry L. Peters