Secretary Vilsack spoke this morning at the Future Farmers of America State Presidents' meeting. He had the opportunity to meet with FFA's national and state leaders, and took a few minutes to congratulate them on their election to leadership posts in an organization of more than 500,000 active members.
Vilsack highlighted the challenges facing American agriculture into the future, and emphasized the role young farmers will play in keeping U.S. farms and ranches secure and productive for years to come.
USDA has enjoyed a great relationship with FFA, especially in administering programs which directly benefit students nationwide who aspire to work in agriculture. Our Ag in the Classroom program helps K-12 students gain a greater awareness of agriculture's role in the economy and in society. USDA also administers a $1.7 million "Grants to Youth Serving Institutions" program (also known as the Rural Youth Development Program). For seven years, this program has helped to fund opportunities for the Girl Scouts, FFA, and 4-H in rural areas.
You can always learn more about USDA's activities reaching out to youth and communities by visiting the Cooperative State Research, Extension and Education Service online.