Convention celebrates 2017-18 New York State Budget with Record Funding for Agricultural Education Programs and 100th Anniversary of National Agricultural Education System.

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball will address the 92nd NYS Future Farmers of America (NY FFA) Convention on May 11 to highlight the significance of agricultural education programs to growing the industry. The annual convention, being held at Morrisville State College through May 13, brings together more than 1,600 NY FFA student members and program staff from across the state to recognize their achievements and to provide members with valuable personal and professional development opportunities. 

The Convention also celebrates agricultural education as a priority for strengthening the New York State economy and the future workforce.  Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the 2017-2018 New York State Budget includes record funding of more than $3.6 million to support agricultural education programs and related projects. 

“The NY FFA annual convention is a great time to shine a spotlight on the incredible accomplishments of its members and the impact of this program on our industry, our workforce and the economy,” Commissioner Ball said. “I’m proud that Governor Andrew Cuomo places such a high priority on the importance of agricultural education and that the NYS Budget reflects this support. I am honored to take part in this convention and celebrate the next generation of farmers who will lead the industry forward.”

Supporting Future Agricultural Education Opportunities
Governor Cuomo has prioritized investments in agricultural education to support workforce development and ensure that agriculture remains a valuable and vibrant industry in New York State.  More than $1.6 million will support the creation of new FFA chapters through start-up grants, expand the New York Agriculture in the Classroom program, and help double the number of certified agricultural educators in the State.  This funding is a $1 million increase over last year’s level.  It will enhance opportunities to educate students about healthy eating, particularly those in high-need districts.  It will also help meet the growing demand for agricultural education across New York and expose even more students to these influential programs.

In addition, the State Budget includes $2 million to build a state-of-the-art test kitchen and food science lab at the New York FFA Leadership Training Foundation’s Oswegatchie Educational Center in Croghan, NY.  The facility will offer instruction in food safety, basic food preparation skills, and agricultural-related careers in food processing.  It will also provide space for producers to test new processed food products. Training will be available to FFA members, agricultural educators, farm owners, beginning farmers, and other members of the public. A certified kitchen manager will be on staff to operate the facility and provide classroom instruction. 

By educating current and future New York farmers about emerging trends in food safety, the test kitchen will serve as a valuable resource to increase participation in the New York State Grown & Certified program—the State’s brand for foods grown in New York State and produced to a higher standard.  In order to participate in the program, farmers must be located in New York and have food safety and environmental stewardship plans in place on the farm. More information about New York State Grown & Certified is available here.

NY FFA Convention and Anniversary of National Agricultural Education System
The NY FFA develops middle school and high school students into strong professionals who become leaders in a variety of career fields, including agriculture. There are currently 4,300 members across the State. At this year’s convention, members will have an opportunity to take part in more than two dozen career and leadership development events and competitions. Participants will demonstrate their talents in a variety of categories, including agriculture communications, marketing, vet science, and more.  Winners of these competitions will advance to the National FFA Convention in October. The state convention also offers a number of workshops, motivational seminars, volunteer service opportunities and educational tours during the three-day event. 

This year’s convention also commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Hughes National Vocational Education Act of 1917, which established a cohesive national agricultural education system that continues today.  The Smith-Hughes Act was named for Senator Hoke Smith and Representative Dudley Hughes, both of Georgia, who introduced the legislation in Congress.  It 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.

NY FFA State President Camille Ledoux said, “We are so grateful for the support of Commissioner Ball, the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets and the funding provided by New York State to support the NY FFA.   The FFA is a great program, one that is near and dear to our hearts.  We are proud of the work we do, our promotion of agriculture and this convention—it is a time for us to bring together members and all of our stakeholders and celebrate all of the work they put into the organization all year long.  Agriculture is truly a timeless industry and one that will always be needed for future generations.”

Julie Suarez, Associate Dean for Government & Community Relations at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, said, “Building a pipeline to youth involvement in our farm and food system is critically important to all New Yorker’s who enjoy fresh and local foods.  Today’s farmers and food system innovators need a wide variety of skills, from understanding business management, technology usage in food processing and precision agriculture, and of course, a high degree of scientific literacy.  As New York’s Land Grant institution, Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences appreciates New York State’s ongoing commitment to the next generation through increased support to all of our agricultural education programs.  Capturing the next generation’s tremendous interest in farming and food will help support a vibrant food system for years to come.” 

About NY FFA
Administered by Cornell University, NY FFA develops premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through activities and opportunities nationwide. Future Farmers of America was founded by a group of young farmers back in 1928. Their mission was to prepare future generations for the challenges of feeding a growing population. They taught us that agriculture is more than planting and harvesting– it’s a science, it’s a business and it’s an art.

FFA continues to help the next generation rise up to meet those challenges by helping its members to develop their own unique talents and explore their interests in a broad range of career pathways.  Learn more about NY FFA at