Commissioner Ball with members of the New York State Future Farmers of America Association,
December 12, 2019
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Albany, NY

State Agriculture Commissioner Announces New York FFA Recognized as Having the Highest Membership Increase in the Nation

State Agriculture Commissioner Announces New York FFA Recognized as Having the Highest Membership Increase in the Nation
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New York FFA Recognized at National Conference for Membership Increase in 2018-19 School Year, Up 60% from Previous Year
New York Also Added 41 FFA Chapters Since 2017, Increasing by 30%
FFA Educational Center Currently Under Construction; Expected to Open this Summer

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today congratulated the New York FFA on its significant growth in membership since 2017, helping to further agricultural education and strengthen the state’s future workforce. The New York FFA is a youth organization that helps middle and high school students become leaders in a variety of career fields, including agriculture. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York State dedicated nearly $5 million over the last three years to support agricultural education programs. A record $3.6 million was invested in the 2017-18 Budget to support the New York FFA, New York Agriculture in the Classroom, and to expand the number of agriculture teachers. In November, the New York FFA received national recognition for its membership increase in the 2018-19 school year, a 60% increase from the previous year and the highest increase in the nation.

Commissioner Ball said, “It is such an exciting time for New York FFA, which is experiencing substantial growth and leading the nation in program expansion. I want to congratulate New York’s FFA members and thank its leadership for their passion and dedication to building the future of agriculture, and our Governor and Legislature for continuing to support this important program at record levels. FFA is a powerful program that helps our young people learn more about the industry and obtain the skills they need to succeed in meaningful careers in agriculture and related fields. The program is clearly a model for the nation, shining a spotlight on the many strengths of New York agriculture.”

The New York FFA currently has 7,084 members across the state, up from 4,300 in 2017. As part of the growth in young people joining the FFA, the number of new FFA chapters is also on the rise across the state. This year, the New York FFA celebrated the addition of 13 new chapters in high schools across the state, for a total of 41 new chapters added since 2017. The New York FFA is on track to meet its goal of developing 100 new chapters statewide.

In his 2017 State of the State address, Governor Cuomo 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 is supporting the creation of new FFA chapters through start-up grants, the expansion of the New York Agriculture in the Classroom program, and the increase of the number of certified agricultural educators in the state. These programs help meet the growing demand for agricultural education across New York.

FFA Educational Center Under Construction

The 2017 State Budget also included $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, New York. The facility, which is currently under construction and expected to open this summer, 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.

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. 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 their farms. More information about New York State Grown & Certified is available here.

NY FFA State President Peyton Fontaine said, “The 19-20 NY FFA State Officer Team set a goal at the beginning of this year to increase our membership and the number of chapters throughout the state to give students the opportunity and experiences that agricultural education and FFA can offer. We were very excited to be a part of this extraordinary achievement for New York FFA. We are working to sustain this growth by continuing to provide the resources and education to individuals that may not know about these programs. Although we have made significant progress, we still have room to grow and more students to reach!”

NY FFA Director Derek Hill said, “We are excited that more students across our state have the opportunity to learn more about an industry that we all rely on and develop skills that will last them a lifetime through agricultural education and FFA. The exponential growth that we are seeing has never happened before and it is still trending upwards. We truly appreciate the support that we have received from the Governor, the Legislature and the Department of Agriculture and Markets. This would not be possible without their support.”

Shari Lighthall, Director of Agricultural Education Outreach said, “Agricultural education develops our future leaders and agriculturalists that will help feed the world’s growing population. Agricultural education is the catalyst for our youth to become educated and inspired to enter the industry and become informed consumers of our state’s food and fiber systems.”

Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said, “I’m so pleased with the ongoing growth of the NYS FFA program and the partnership with Cornell’s agricultural education team. Providing high school students with youth development, leadership and team building skills is vital to today’s youth. The FFA program provides a gateway for students from all of NY’s diverse urban, rural, and suburban neighborhoods to experience leadership building with an agricultural sciences and food system focus, helping to recruit the next generation of farm, food system, and natural resources entrepreneurs.”

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 in 1928. Their mission was to prepare future generations for the challenges of feeding a growing population. They showed 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 challenges by developing their own unique talents and exploring their interests in a broad range of career pathways. Learn more about NY FFA at www.nysffa.org.