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Why I believe in the future of agriculture

Progressive Dairyman Editor Peggy Coffeen Published on 16 February 2016

“I believe in the future of agriculture …”

If you donned a blue corduroy jacket during your high school days, those words hit a special place in your heart. They mark the beginning of the FFA Creed, a five-paragraph essay that eloquently explains the mission of one of the nation’s largest and oldest youth organizations, the FFA.

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Each time I read the creed, I am filled with pride. It makes me so proud to have “lived and worked on a good farm,” to have a first-hand understanding of the “joys and discomforts of agricultural life” and to have witnessed “achievements won by present and past generations of agriculturalists.”

But sometimes it also leaves me wondering … will the youth of today embrace those values? How will they experience agriculture if they aren’t born into it?

Just when I was about to lose hope, a knock on the door restored it. It was my neighbor girl, Aren, coming over to practice the FFA Creed for an upcoming speaking contest. As a high school freshman, she was new to FFA.

No one in her family was involved with farming in any way, but she spent a lot of time hanging out around the hobby farms in our neighborhood – riding horses, chasing chickens and feeding baby calves. She even showed up enthusiastically to help bale small squares of hay (using a baler without a kicker, I might add).

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As she stood in my living room, perfectly projecting the powerful phrases, I couldn’t just hear them; I could feel them. There was passion behind what she was saying. I realized there is hope for the future of agriculture, and I was looking right at it.

With fewer and fewer farms, the traditional “farm kid” may be a dying breed, but organizations like FFA are propagating a new hybrid of students and cultivating their skills in public speaking and leadership.

Agriculture needs kids like Aren. We need to give them a taste of the way of life we value so they can share in it with us. You see, even if she doesn’t pursue a career in agriculture, she will go out into the world with the knowledge to make informed choices, and she will have the ability to articulate her thoughts and opinions.

She will be a credible key influencer among her peers because her agriculture experience will be greater than most people around her.

I believe in the future of agriculture because kids like Aren prove you can learn to love something even if you are not born into it, but it’s up to those of us who were to reach out.

So in the words of E.M. Tiffany, how will you “exert an influence” on this impressionable generation of youth? What will be your “part in that inspiring task?”  PD

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The FFA Creed
By E.M. Tiffany

I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds – achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years.

I believe that to live and work on a good farm, or to be engaged in other agricultural pursuits, is pleasant as well as challenging; for I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations which, even in hours of discouragement, I cannot deny.

I believe in leadership from ourselves and respect from others. I believe in my own ability to work efficiently and think clearly, with such knowledge and skill as I can secure, and in the ability of progressive agriculturists to serve our own and the public interest in producing and marketing the product of our toil.

I believe in less dependence on begging and more power in bargaining; in the life abundant and enough honest wealth to help make it so – for others as well as myself; in less need for charity and more of it when needed; in being happy myself and playing square with those whose happiness depends upon me.

I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life and that I can exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task.

Peggy Coffeen
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