This week young people across the country are celebrating FFA Week. During this time, members of Future Farmers of America (FFA) get a chance to educate the public about agriculture, but also to learn more about the industry themselves. In January, in his State of the Union address, President Obama focused on the importance of providing a world-class education to all American youth. He called on us to out-educate our global competitors so that we keep great jobs here and strengthen the American economy in the long-term.
FFA is playing an important role in providing that education for hundreds of thousands of America’s young people.
FFA is providing opportunities for young people to learn about food and agriculture, to help them become community leaders, and to prepare them to compete for the jobs of the 21st century. It is teaching younger generations how to make informed choices in agriculture and natural resources systems – a skill set that will grow our next generation of farmers. It is preparing students for successful careers in agriculture that stimulate the economy and supply our nation with food, feed and fiber we rely on.
I am proud to say that in addition to FFA, and other youth organizations like 4H, USDA supports universities that are training the next generation of innovators. America has an aging farming population, and as the folks running our farm lands grow older, we look toward the future for a group that is ready and able to take over this important sector of the American economy.
Last month I visited with FFA to talk to the students that comprise this year’s National FFA Officer Team. I challenged them to spend time with their friends and other FFA members to think about what they envision for the future of agriculture. I told them that USDA was committed to continuing our work in educating the next generation of producers and agricultural professionals. And I signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to deepen USDA’s involvement with FFA and to supplement its important mission.
At the end of the day, we need to cultivate a community of young people who pursue a future in agriculture so together we can revitalize not only rural America, but the country as a whole. Today’s students must become tomorrow’s farmers, ranchers, growers, scientists and agriculturalists. These folks will guarantee us a safe and affordable food supply, and preserve our land for generations. It is for these reasons that groups such as FFA are integral to our success as a nation.