The conversation about the future of agriculture never stops in farming areas like the North Country. Yesterday afternoon, Congressman Bill Owens came to Canton Central School to speak with students of FFA.
Tasha Haverty reports.
State senator Patty Ritchie says schools in Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties got $7 million more than the Governor had proposed,...
So we were surprised to get the news this week that regulators are lowering the gates at the...
About 30 high school seniors piled into a classroom to listen to Owens. After going around the room to shake hands with each student, the congressman spoke to the group and said, “I would urge you to continue with this important area that you’re studying and hopefully that you’re going to get into because it’s very important to the United States, and it’s very important to our national security that we are able to produce our own food."
Some of the FFA members are the children of farmers and continue in their family’s footsteps as members of the FFA. Lee Dunkleberg said he was inspired by Owens’ appearance, and the chance to meet a congressperson.
“Well first of all I’ve never met a congressman before, but also he’s a big part of the agricultural community up here,” said Dunkleberg, who was the only student to ask Owens about the farm bill. He and his family are farmers, and they’re for bill.
Holly Coway isn’t from a farm family but joining the FFA was
enough to spark her commitment. She said, “I’m here
because I’m scared that the kids below me aren’t going to have the experiences
that I had. Because I’ve been to so many different places because of FFA and
it’s always expanded my horizon. I look at things the way a farmer looks at it
even though I didn’t necessarily grow up on a farm.”
When the talk wrapped up, the students led Owens out to show him the garden they’ve been cultivating all year, and talked about their work bringing more locally grown food into the cafeteria. Owens says he hopes to reenforce these interests with appearances like yesterday’s.
“We’re in a
situation where the world is going to need more food. We have the opportunity
to produce that food. So we have the opportunity to do something good for the
world but also something beneficial for our economy. And the students here in
this classroom looks to me like they’re trying to take advantage of those
opportunities. And we want to encourage that to the maximum extent we can,” said Owens.
As more school programs are on the chopping block, students
like McKenzie Barney understand the signal of support that Owens’s visit is
sending. Barney said, “It’s a big
deal because through this whole budget cut, agriculture, FFA, the courses our
teacher teaches, haven’t been mentioned. No one realizes what agriculture means
in this world anymore.”