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Save the FFA!

FFA. Many of us know it by its old moniker: Future Farmers of America. Like mom, apple pie and scouts, FFA is part of Vermonts rural tapestry. Sadly, for those of us who value the contributions of agriculture and its affiliated education and social organizations in Addison County, its hard news to bearwe may lose FFAs presence locally. FFA is a vital rural community organization that has inspired and turned around many young lives. It has fostered important agricultural traditions in our rural communities. The U.S. President's FY 09 budget for the U.S. Department of Education will eliminate funding for 47 important programsincluding career and technical education programsthat fund FFA. This is bad news for Vermonts efforts to keep agricultural education alive in a state already pummeled by a steady erosion in its agricultural economy and heritage. The Department of Education budget states that termination of the 47 programs frees up almost $3.3 billion for priority education programs that have a demonstrated record of success or that hold significant promise for increasing accountability and improving student achievement. The Bush administration eliminated Perkins funding in FY 2006 and FY2007, and cut funding in half in FY2008. However, Congress has ignored this request and restored funding for the Perkins program each year. Addison Countys Farm Bureau supports increasing Perkins Act funding for career and technical agricultural education and FFA student organizationsthe Addison Eagle supports increasing Perkins funding, too. Agricultural education programs provide a well-rounded, practical approach to learning through classroom education in agricultural topics such as plant and animal sciences, horticulture, forestry, agrimarketing, etc. and hands-on supervised agricultural career experience such as starting a business or working for an established company. FFA provides leadership opportunities and challenges students' to develop personal and agricultural business skills. We urge our readers to contact Vermonts U.S. House and Senate representatives to urge the rejection of the Bush administration's DOE budget and to fully restore and increase funding for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to $1.7 billion. The time to act is now.

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