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Ag Entrepreneurship Support from USDA Helps a Michigan FFA Member Boost His Seed Business

Jasper Cunningham, Michigan FFA National Officer candidate, Junior at Michigan State University, and owner of the Seed Boy Seed Company (left) meets with Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager at the Agriculture Department.

Jasper Cunningham, Michigan FFA National Officer candidate, Junior at Michigan State University, and owner of the Seed Boy Seed Company (left) meets with Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager at the Agriculture Department.

Jasper Cunningham is a busy young man.  A Junior at Michigan State University, Michigan FFA’s National Officer candidate, and the owner of his own business:  the Seed Boy Seed Company.

Like many FFA members, Jasper, of Ravenna, Michigan, didn’t grow up on a farm, but farming and agriculture is in his blood.  An Ag Business major, he’s been in the FFA since his freshman year in high school.

“The FFA has provided me with leadership skills.  I’ve grown personally, and it has helped me learn the technical aspects of running a business and starting a career.”

The business is seeds.  He started in 2006, selling seeds to local families.  He also found a niche market, providing certain seed to local growers.  Now he has over 100 customers in four states, ranging from home gardeners to farmers.

Things took off in 2010 when he applied for and received a $1000 Ag Entrepreneurship Award through USDA Rural Development.  The award program is funded through USDA and administered by the National FFA Organization.  His local FFA chapter also received $500.

The money went to establish a record keeping and inventory tracking system for the business, and it gave his operation a boost.  Earlier this summer, Jasper was able to meet with Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager at the Agriculture Department, where he thanked the Under Secretary for his support of the Ag Entrepreneurship Program.

Tonsager, a farmer, is from a small community in South Dakota. He and Jasper spent some time talking about their common Midwest upbringing and mutual admiration of the FFA.  As for Jasper he says “The FFA taught me to keep growing and moving forward.”

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