Photo: FFA members in Washington, D.C., in 2017.
FFA members and staff joined President Donald Trump Thursday at the White House as he signed the $867 billion, bipartisan Farm Bill. Among the bill’s provisions is an agricultural youth organization coordinator that National FFA members and other student members of agricultural youth organizations have been advocating for since National Ag Day in March 2017.
“This Farm Bill and its inclusion of an agricultural youth organization coordinator is monumental for the next generation of agriculture as it gives youth a seat at the table,” said Riley Pagett, the National FFA director of advocacy and government relations. “It’s important that our nation makes moves like this to consider the future of agriculture as much as we consider our current needs for strong safety nets and nutrition programs.”
Beginning in 2019, the coordinator will oversee all youth programs, goals, and initiatives at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as:
- Motivate and prepare young people to pursue careers in the agriculture, food, and natural resources systems.
- Build youth awareness of agriculture.
- Develop opportunities, such as internships, for youth.
- Collaborate with and support youth-serving organizations and school-based agricultural education.
- Provide information to youth on agricultural programs, such as beginning farmer and rancher programs.
- Serve as a resource for youth wanting to participate in agriculture.
- Advocate for youth involved in food and agriculture organizations in interactions with USDA employees.
The news cheered current and former members alike, including past national FFA officer teams that worked on the initial legislation, some of whom were on hand for the signing ceremony.
“The position is one that creates a real voice for young people in our federal government and helps them find an advocate and friend willing to help connect them to programs, initiatives, and careers in food and agriculture,” said Piper Merritt, the 2017-18 central region vice president.
“An agriculture youth coordinator stationed at the U.S. Department of Agriculture is long overdue,” said 2016-17 National FFA President David Townsend. “It’s vital because there are hundreds of thousands of skilled agriculture students seeking experiences that will guide important decisions about where they will leave their mark. It is a full-time job to transition that agricultural talent pipeline from education to action. This farm bill does that for me and so many others.”
To learn more about this position, visit the Congress.gov website.