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Happy (belated) FFA Week, District 1! Our approach to planting season is a wonderful time to highlight FFA’s positive impact across the state and country by providing programs for aspiring farmers and ag leaders.
FFA is an organization for junior high and high school students who are challenged through career and leadership development events to develop critical thinking skills, enhance communication, and promote teamwork. FFA prepares youth for personal growth and success through agricultural education. The future of agriculture is in good hands with FFA members at the forefront.
In honor of FFA Week, this week’s column will highlight Senator Brandt’s LB 396. This bill would allow farms across the state to provide schools with fresh and local ag products to include in their school meals and snacks and provide opportunities for students to learn more about the agriculture industry.
By providing schools with locally-grown food, both farmers and schools will reap the benefits. Farmers will be able to expand their reach into consumer markets, which will increase their income. Schools will benefit through the expansion of Nebraska-produced food in their cafeterias. By providing local vegetables, fruits, meat, and dairy to their students, schools will be able to increase the quantity and quality of their food. Also, through the increase of locally-sourced food, children will be encouraged to develop healthy eating habits.
The Farm-to-School program also may include hands-on learning opportunities for students, potentially in partnership with existing educational programs offered through 4-H Extension Programs. Some examples of these activities include farm visits, cooking demonstrations, and school gardening and composting programs. The program will also integrate nutrition and agriculture education into school curricula. Through these learning activities, students will better understand the significance of agriculture in our state and might be encouraged to consider a future career in agriculture.
Nebraska’s economy depends on agriculture. Our current and future farmers deserve a state and system of laws to promote economic growth. There’s been plenty of talk of what the next round of economic stimulus will bring on a federal level, but I remain adamant that the single most impactful economic stimulus Nebraska could have is additional property tax relief. LB 396 is another tool to encourage agriculture to prosper in our state.
As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.