82 Organizations Submit Letter to Congress in Support of the Next Generation of Agriculture

More than 82 farm groups, youth organizations and agricultural associations signed a letter to Congress delivered Tuesday, March 21 (National Ag Day 2017) to strengthen the next generation of agriculturists.

The group, including the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, Deere & Company, Syngenta, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, and the National Farmers Union sent the letter to the Senate and House Agriculture Committees in an effort to express the need for policy allowing for the teaching of agricultural literacy and advocacy in classrooms, encourages students to return to the farm or to pursue agricultural careers and supports them in doing so, and equips youth serving organizations to prepare the next generation of agriculturists.

In addition, 100+ youth in agriculture have traveled to Capitol Hill to celebrate agriculture with their elected officials and their staff as part of National Ag Day’s student program. While they are there, several of the students issued a hard copy of the letter to the four principals on the agriculture committees. We invite you or your organization to join us by using #NextGenAg.

Read the letter below or view the PDF version:

March 21, 2017

Chairman Pat Roberts
Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow
Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Chairman Mike Conaway
House Committee on Agriculture
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Ranking Member Collin Peterson
House Committee on Agriculture
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members,

We, the undersigned businesses, organizations, and associations, write to express our extreme support for a bipartisan effort to reauthorize a new, comprehensive Farm Bill for the betterment of agriculturists – and the next generation of agriculturists – across the United States.

During the 2014 Farm Bill proceedings, Representative Frank D. Lucas, then Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said, “Every four or five years, when a Farm Bill is signed, it’s signed for America’s farmers, ranchers, and consumers, but it’s also signed for the next generation of young leaders. This bill affects them just as much as you and me.”

Our nation’s investment in American agriculture, and youth who will pursue that enterprise, is crucial to feeding the world, building a sound economy, maintaining a healthy labor market, and protecting the homeland. Now more than ever, we need sound legislation that considers the future of agriculture as much as it considers our current needs for strong safety nets and nutrition programs. We need policy that allows for the teaching of agricultural literacy and advocacy in our classrooms, encourages students to return to the farm or to pursue agricultural careers and supports them in doing so, and equips youth serving organizations to prepare the next generation of agriculturists regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, or disability.

The next version of the Farm Bill can do that, and more, by:
– Heightening the profile of youth in agriculture.
– Including agricultural education and/or agricultural literacy grants for secondary, school-based agricultural education programs, teachers, and students.
– Establishing an agricultural youth organization coordinator appointment within the Secretary’s office to oversee the implementation of the grants and to actively seek and communicate areas where there is a match between the education delivery needs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the programs developed to meet those needs through the work of the National FFA Organization, Agriculture Future of America, Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences, and other agricultural youth organizations.

As the 115th Congress works to advance agricultural priorities, and as your bodies work to reauthorize the Farm Bill, we hope that you will continue to consider the next generation of agriculture – our students.


Agricultural Retailers Association
Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America
Agriculture Future of America
Alabama FFA Association
Alaska FFA Association
American Agri-Women
American Feed Industry Association
American Seed Trade Association
American Society of Agronomy
Arizona FFA Association
Arkansas FFA Association
Arkansas Vocational Agricultural Teacher Association
Bayer Corporation
Colorado FFA Association
Connecticut FFA Association
Crop Science Society of America
CropLife America
Deere & Company
Delaware FFA Association
Domino’s Pizza
Farm Credit Council
Farm Journal Foundation
Florida FFA Association
Georgia FFA Association
Georgia Young Farmers Association
Global Cold Chain Alliance
Growth Energy
Hawaii FFA Association
Idaho FFA Association
Illinois FFA Association
Indiana FFA Association
Iowa FFA Association
Kansas Department of Agriculture
Kansas FFA Association
Kentucky FFA Association
Look East PR
Louisiana FFA Association
Maryland FFA Association
Minnesota FFA Association
Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences
Mississippi FFA Association
Missouri FFA Association
Montana FFA Association
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
National Council of Agricultural Employers
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Farmers Union
National FFA Organization
National Grain and Feed Association
National Young Farmers Coalition
Nebraska FFA Association
Nevada FFA Association
New Hampshire FFA Association
New Jersey FFA Association
New Mexico FFA Association
New York FFA Association
North Carolina FFA Association
North Dakota FFA Association
Ohio FFA Association
Oklahoma FFA Association
Oregon FFA Association
Pennsylvania Association of Agriculture Educators
Pennsylvania FFA Association
Rhode Island FFA Association
Soil Science Society of America
South Carolina FFA Association
STEM Food and Ag Council
Texas FFA Association
The Fertilizer Institute
U.S. Poultry & Egg Association
Utah FFA Association
Virgin Islands FFA Association
Virginia FFA Association
Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas
Washington FFA Association
West Virginia FFA Association
Wisconsin FFA Association
Wyoming FFA Association

Sen. Ritchie hosting FFA members during senate agriculture meeting

State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton is hosting members of the Future Farmers of America chapters from across the state and from local school districts — including South Jefferson, Carthage, Gouverneur and Belleville Henderson — on Tuesday in Albany during the first Senate Agriculture Committee meeting of the year. Sen. Ritchie is the committee chairwoman.

During the meeting, Sen. Ritchie will discuss her plans to help New York state farmers during this year’s legislative session and listen to FFA members talk about what they are seeing in the industry today.

“Students who are part of FFA represent the next chapter of agriculture in New York State,” Sen. Ritchie said in a release. “Not only are these bright students learning about the importance of farming, they’re also learning valuable leadership skills that will last a lifetime. I’m excited to welcome FFA members to Albany and hear about the things they are doing today that will help farming remain a vitally important part of our economy for many years to come.”

The students will also be honored by Sen. Ritchie during the day’s Senate session with an official resolution recognizing them for their achievements and naming Feb. 18 through 25 the “FFA Week in the State of New York.”

In his proposed 2017-18 Executive Budget, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo committed $122 million for agriculture and markets, about $5 million more than what was proposed for the last fiscal year budget.

The extra spending has to do with the governor’s proposed modernization of the New York State Fair. A total of $70 million is going into several fair upgrades, including a gondola to take visitors between the Fairgrounds and Lakeview Amphitheater in Syracuse.

More details at: http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/news03/sen-ritchie-hosting-ffa-members-during-senate-agriculture-meeting-20170207

A Firsthand Look at the Future of Farming: Ritchie Hosts FFA Members in Albany

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Senator Patty Ritchie welcomed students representing Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapters from across the state, including those in Central and Northern New York, to Albany Tuesday to share what she is doing to strengthen agriculture, as well as to hear from members about what they’re learning today that will help protect the future of the industry. 

  Among those in attendance were FFA members from a number of local school districts, including South Jefferson, Carthage, Gouverneur and Belleville Henderson.  Over 50 students from more than a dozen FFA organizations across the state joined Senator Ritchie for the first Senate Agriculture Committee meeting of the year, where they had the opportunity to speak about their involvement in FFA and how the organization has helped them to not only learn about farming, but also how to build leadership skills and become involved in their communities. Among the students speaking was Paige Thorne, who represented the Carthage Central School District’s FFA. 

  “As someone who grew up on a family farm, I can attest that farming is a tough job—that’s why I find it so admirable that the young people who visited today have decided to be part of New York’s leading industry,” said Senator Ritchie. 

  “Through their involvement with FFA, students aren’t just learning about farming—they’re also learning important life skills. These are students who set examples for others to follow, know the importance of teamwork, strive to make a difference in their schools and their communities and encourage their peers to reach new heights.”

  In addition, students were also recognized on the Senate floor during the day’s session with an official Resolution, recognizing them for their achievements and naming February 18th to 25th “FFA Week in the State of New York.”

Students also manned tables throughout the day in the concourse of Albany’s Empire State Plaza, where they answered questions, handed out samples and helped to educate visitors, legislators and staff about the work being done by FFA to strengthen New York’s agriculture industry.

In recent years, Senator Ritchie has made it a priority to support young people interested in agriculture, successfully advocating for a total of $2.7 million for agricultural education programs, including an increase of $658,000 to support a growing number of FFA chapters across the state.   

More details at: https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/patty-ritchie/firsthand-look-future-farming-ritchie-hosts-ffa-members-albany


February Marks 100th Anniversary of National Agricultural Education System

State Agriculture Commissioner Participates in Anniversary Celebration with New York Future Farmers of America

Governor Cuomo Proposes Record Funding for Agriculture Education in 2017-18 Executive Budget

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball commemorates 100 years of formal agricultural education in New York State in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Hughes National Vocational Education Act of 1917.  As a result of this landmark federal legislation, a cohesive national system of career and technical education was developed and continues today.

Commissioner Ball will join the New York Future Farmers of America (NY FFA) for an anniversary celebration tonight in Albany that will promote the value of agricultural education programs to both students and the industry and spotlight New York’s leadership in agricultural education.  On behalf of Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Ball will present a citation during the celebration to commemorate the anniversary. 

“For years, agricultural education programs have encouraged millions of young people to pursue higher education and become strong leaders in their chosen fields.  The Smith-Hughes Act was a major part of strengthening that effort across the country and I am thrilled to be part of the celebration of this historic milestone,” Commissioner Ball said. “Here in New York, we are proud be a national leader when it comes to agriculture education and I am grateful to be part of an administration that recognizes the importance of carrying that legacy forward.”

The Smith-Hughes Act was named for Senator Hoke Smith and Representative Dudley Hughes, both of Georgia, who introduced the legislation in Congress.  It was passed on February 17, 1917 and signed by President Woodrow Wilson on February 23.  In celebration of this historic anniversary, the NY FFA is holding career development workshops this month to help more than 100 students better understand public policy and State government. 

The Smith-Hughes Act paved the way for youth leadership development organizations, such as FFA, whose members gain valuable workforce training and professional management skills that often lead to meaningful careers in agriculture and related fields. New York State has a rich history with the National FFA Organization being one of the oldest chapters in the country.  Currently, Ashley Willits from Copenhagen, NY, is serving as the Eastern Region Vice President for the National FFA.  She is the first female national officer from New York.

Terry Hughes, Career Development Event Coordinator for NY FFA said, “As a product of Agricultural education myself, it is exciting to see that even after 100 years this dynamic school based program continues to prepare young people to fill the growing demand in the ever changing Agriculture, Food, Fiber, and Natural Resources Industry.  Agricultural education is positioned well to continue to make a positive difference in the lives of students by recognizing the critical importance of developing premier leadership through the FFA as an integral part of career success and civic engagement.”

Ashley Willits, National FFA Eastern Region Vice President, said, “New York FFA Association, along with FFA associations across the country and in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, give students opportunities to apply the knowledge they learn in the classroom to relevant, real world experiences.  With more than 235 careers in agriculture, FFA and agricultural education play an integral part in preparing students to be competitive in a global workforce.”

Record Funding For New York Agricultural Education

Agricultural education has long been a priority in New York with programs that pre-date the Smith-Hughes Act and the oldest urban agriculture program in the U.S.  The State was also one of the first in the country to allow girls to pursue these curriculums and continues to set an example for the rest of the nation with cutting-edge programs that influence more than 10,000 students annually. 

To continue New York’s progressive leadership in this area, Governor Cuomo has proposed a record $1.3 million in his 2017-18 Executive Budget to support 100 new FFA chapters through start-up grants, expand the New York Agriculture in the Classroom program, which is administered by Cornell University, and to double the number of certified agricultural educators from 240 to 480.  The Governor’s plan will enhance opportunities for students and educators and help meet the growing demand for agricultural programs across the State. 

The Governor has also proposed a state-of-the-art test kitchen and food science lab at the New York FFA Oswegatchie Educational Center in the North Country.  This test kitchen will offer instruction in food safety, basic food preparation, and food processing to more than 6,000 annual visitors, including both students and veterans from nearby Fort Drum.  

Kathryn J. Boor, Dean of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences said, “I appreciate this important partnership commemoration as it recognizes the full spectrum of Cornell’s agricultural education, which begins in the primary schools with the New York Agriculture in the Classroom program, to the Cornell FFA program’s emphasis on developing high school students, and ends with our excellent undergraduate and graduate programs in agricultural and life sciences.  The importance of agricultural education in today’s economy has never been greater, as we see ongoing needs to cultivate the next generation of New York’s farm families, food and business entrepreneurs, and plant and animal scientists to keep feeding a globally increasing population efficiently and sustainably in a changing climate.  I am thrilled that the Governor recognizes the importance of building a reliable pipeline to Taste NY and New York Grown and Certified programs through supporting the future farm and food entrepreneurs in New York State.”

Tina Miner, President of NY Association of Agricultural Educators, said “This is an exciting time for agricultural education in New York State.  So many school districts are seeking to start agricultural education programs and our State leaders have demonstrated that they recognize the power of these programs to develop a strong workforce.  We are thrilled to have this level of support and we look forward to our role in supporting one of New York’s most important industries.” 

Jola Szubielski I Jola.Szubielski@agriculture.ny.gov 518-457-0752

Lisa Koumjian I Lisa.Koumjian@agriculture.ny.gov 518-457-0752