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Montana Ag Network: Montana FFA continues to grow

This week, Montana FFA members are gathered in Bozeman for the association’s annual convention.

Students are competing in career and development events, gaining leadership skills, and becoming advocates for agriculture.

Montana FFA President Morgan Weidow said because of the traditional title, “Future Farmers of America,” people who aren’t familiar with the organization assume members are only farm and ranch kids.

“It’s so much more than that. We have students who are not only farm students and students who have ranching backgrounds, but we have urban students here that are interested in learning how to better advocate for agriculture. Learning how to develop their public speaking skills. You know, it’s not just agriculture here, it’s leadership and it’s personal development for our members here as well.”

National FFA president Luke O’Leary of California shared how FFA is growing across the nation.

“We have currently 670,000 student members across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and just reinstated a chapter in Washington DC. So, we’re excited to continue to really elevate all those members opportunities in agriculture and beyond that,” he said. We’re really proud to say that we are providing the next generation of leaders that will change the world. I mean that’s whatever career path they may choose, agriculture or not. They’re going to be knowledgeable consumers that will go support the industry, be part of the industry. I’m more excited to see how they impact the world through that.”

The Montana FFA has also had consistent growth for over 10 years.

“We have gained four chapters in the state of Montana this year alone,” said Weidow. “And so we will be recognizing Broadview, Dodson, Dawson and Hot Springs as new newly chartered chapters. And so, we’re up to 97 chapters total in the state of Montana and just surpassing 5,130 students. So, the future is definitely bright for the Montana FFA Association.”

Much of Montana FFA’s success comes from agriculture education teachers, alumni, and supporters.

“We are really appreciative for all of the people that make this possible,” said Weidow. “All of our sponsors, our state staff, our state officers are state advisors for sure. It takes a lot of work to put on something as big as this. We’re celebrating everyone this week.”

This year, over 1,500 FFA members attended the state convention in Bozeman.

In other farm and ranch news, the Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will release the 2017 Census of Agriculture results April 11.

The full Census report will include millions of data points, including number of farms, land in farms, total value of production, demographics, and more at the national, state, and county levels.

The report, along with a number of related publications, video presentations, and searchable data query interfaces, will be available on the NASS website at www.nass.usda.gov. Available now in preparation for data release are three videos featuring NASS subject matter experts explaining the importance of the Census, what’s new in this Census, and how to find Census data.

“We are excited to share the new Census of Agriculture data next week,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “The Census data will help inform decisions about ag education, research, farm programs, rural development, and much more over the next several years. Conducting the Census is part of USDA’s commitment to you.”

The report will include new information on military service, food marketing practices, and on-farm decision-making. These additions help better capture the roles and contributions of beginning farmers, women farmers, and others involved in running a farm enterprise. Data from this census as well as previous ones are easily searchable on the new online Census Data Query Tool.

Meanwhile, the agency is also collecting data for two Census of Agriculture Special Studies – the 2018 Census of Aquaculture and the 2018 Irrigation and Water Management Survey. These and other products, such as state, county, and congressional district profiles will be released throughout the year.

-Reported by Russell Nemetz/MTN News

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