‘Do, learn, earn to live and live to serve’
Last week we celebrated National FFA week. Since its founding in 1928, the National FFA Organization has brought together students, educators and private sector agriculture professionals to support agriculture education in schools across our country. More specifically, FFA teaches young adults throughout southern Missouri to do, learn, earn to live and live to serve. Countless lives, including my own, have been changed for the better as FFA provides confidence in the classroom, on the farm and in life.
My first trip to Washington, D.C., was when I was a member of the Salem High School’s Future Farmers of America chapter. That trip helped me understand our civic duties as Americans, showed me the importance of honest leadership in Washington and inspired me to serve my fellow Missourians. The Salem FFA jacket I wore back then still hangs today on the wall of my office in Washington. It reminds me every day of who I am, where I come from and the importance FFA played in shaping me into the man I am today.
In high school, I served as a chapter and area officer, and I participated in numerous Future Farmers of America competitions. Like many folks raised in rural areas, FFA invigorated my passion for agriculture, and it was where I learned the importance of letting our farmers farm free of governmental road blocks and red tape. It’s why I fight passionately today to defend the rural way of life so many of us enjoy. It’s a blessing to say I still own my family’s farm that was started four generations ago, but it’s an even bigger honor to stand up and fight for the thousands of family farmers across southeast and south central Missouri. With President Trump in office, we are repealing farm-killing regulations at an unheard-of rate – 22:1 – and ensuring that Washington stays out of your way and off of your farm.
In Missouri alone, more than 25,000 students are guided by the FFA’s mission to “make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.” Our region is responsible for feeding our nation and the world, and the success of that depends on areas like ours developing the best and brightest future ag-industry leaders. FFA plays an integral part in specifically identifying and preparing these leaders.
With the number of farmers under the age of 35 on the rise, FFA will continue to play a major role in educating, assisting and developing our future farm workers and owners. As a proud FFA alum, and as Missouri’s voice in Congress, it is an honor and a privilege for me to support this organization and make sure the government works to help our nation’s farmers, not hurt them. In order for rural America to thrive and the rest of the country to survive, we must continue working with young people to expand agricultural knowledge and leadership skills.