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Support FFA, the future of agriculture

OPINION by U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, guest column | February 19, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

If you're a current or former FFA member or know someone who has been positively affected by the organization, I hope you'll join me this week, Feb. 18-25, in celebrating National FFA Week.

As some of you know, when I was in high school, I was a member of the Fountain Lake High School FFA Chapter, and I eventually went on to serve as Arkansas FFA state president. My roots in FFA run deep, and I'm grateful for the investments that my agriculture instructor, Albert McCoin, and others like him made that had positive impacts on so many young lives. I'm also thankful that FFA was available at my high school so it's natural for me to advocate for FFA for current and future generations.

President George Washington once said, "agriculture is the most healthful, most useful, and most noble employment of man." FFA members across the country look up to President Washington as a model of leadership and champion for agriculture. For the past 75 years, FFA members, advisers, alumni, and supporters have celebrated National FFA Week during the week of Washington's Birthday, Feb. 22.

Agriculture provides the necessities of life, and without it, we would be dependent, weak, and likely would not have prevailed in our country's past trials. I'm proud to represent the 4th District of Arkansas, which has an abundance of farmlands. In fact, the number one industry in the 4th District is agriculture. Many of my constituents are leaders in the agriculture industry as producers in poultry, cattle, forestry, row crops, catfish, and more. Working in agriculture isn't for everyone; it is a demanding lifestyle that requires determination and dedication to providing for others.

From the food on your table to the roof over your head, everything around you is tied to agriculture, which is exactly why it is so important that we empower the youth in our country to engage in the industry. To ensure our country has a bright future, we need bright minds at the forefront of agriculture, and that's where FFA excels.

FFA teaches students about the importance of agriculture and the career opportunities available to them within the field of agriculture. But it's so much more than that. FFA empowers students to become leaders in their schools, communities, and country. It prepares and provides youth with the resources they need to exceed their preconceived notions of success and accomplish great things for themselves and the people around them.

I remain dedicated to supporting this organization in the name of advancing agriculture in our country and expanding opportunities for our youth. As a member of the Congressional FFA Caucus, I work with my fellow FFA supporters in Congress on a bipartisan basis to support FFA and advocate for strong career and technical education legislation to advance the principles of the organization.

As Congress considers the very important farm bill this year, I'm reminded of a line from the FFA creed that states, "I believe ... in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years." We are blessed with great agricultural achievements that have made America strong and Americans prosperous, but we have a responsibility to continually do better.

I hope you will join me and other FFA supporters around the world in celebrating this incredible organization. May the week remind us of the great strides FFA makes in growing great leaders and contributing to the future of agriculture.

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