Good news 4-H Champ and anyone who was surprised by the FFAers who told my future farming kin in Indy last week that the FFA wasn't about farming anymore and instead was about business (not even agri-business).
Why would an FFA member deny farming and not even talk about agriculture to a group of would-be FFAers?
Julie Adams, FFA's national spokeswoman, has a few answers (though none of them really addressed why FFA members wouldn't more clearly be able to articulate the ag-connection).
First, she notes in a message to VFG that FFA isn't an extra-curricular activity or club. Indeed, FFA is intra-curricular, which means that as a core requirement, members need to be enrolled in agriculture courses to be involved.
I had asked if one of the reasons for the answer might be that FFA was more focused on youth development, than agricultural education.
Julie says: "[T]he short answer to your question is that no, FFA is not shifting its focus toward general business and youth development."
Like many farmers and folks in the ag industry, the FFA is faced with a common misperception of the word agriculture.
"We believe Agriculture in its largest sense encompasses production farming, biotechnology, food and commodity processing, marketing, and multiple other careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture," she says. "We all realize that we stand on the shoulders of those men and women who work the land, enabling Americans to enjoy the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world."
And here's something that Julie said that I believe too, that "by educating young people and adults alike – by opening their eyes to all the ways agriculture touches their lives – we help instill in them respect for those who produce the food, fiber and natural resources that fuel our nation."
Sound familiar? I think I may have said something like that a few times here.
So anyway. The long and the short of it is this.
Is the FFA still into farming?
"Yes," says Julie. "FFA will continue to recognize an American Star Farmer every year, along with American Stars in Agriscience, Agribusiness and Agricultural Placement. We will continue to confer more than 3,000 American FFA Degrees to the best and brightest of our members each year."