Guest Post By Micah Matlock, 2010-2011 Indiana FFA State Sentinel
Agriculture is the foundation of civilization and society today, just as it has been for over the past 10,000 years. Just as civilization and society has changed drastically from generation to generation, so has agriculture. I come from a family of dairy farmers over 4 generations back on both sides of the family. There are few things that I find more fascinating than having the chance to sit down with my grandfather and listen to him ramble on about the “glory days” when he was a dairy farmer in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It is astounding to see how far agriculture has come in the last 50 years.
The list of changes in agriculture from 4 generations ago is endless. Even the list of changes from one generation ago (my father’s generation) to today’s generation is extensive. When my dad was managing a 500 head registered Holstein farm in the late 1980’s, corn was only $2.00 per bushel, diesel was only $1.50 per gallon, and milk was $12.00. Now, for various reasons, prices of these commodities have risen significantly with corn at $7.00 per bushel, diesel at $3.70 per gallon, and milk nearing $18 per hundred weight and these prices will no doubt only continue to rise! Agriculture has always been, is, and will always be the foundation of our American economy.
Even the changes in FFA from my father’s generation, when he served as the 1971-1972 Indiana FFA State Vice President, to my generation have been drastic as I now serve as the 2010-2011 Indiana FFA State Sentinel. For instance, ‘FFA’ is no longer called the Future Farmers of America. Instead, we are now simply known (on the national level) as the National FFA Organization to further demonstrate the changing agriculture industry as it diversifies and becomes more than just farming. Also, for the majority of the time that my father was an FFA member, women were not allowed in FFA in Indiana until 1970. Now, not only do women make up over 50 percent of the membership, they also hold over 60 percent of the leadership positions in FFA. For example, for the first time in Indiana FFA history, the Indiana FFA State Officer team consists of six women, and one guy (me). Those were only two changes out of the countless number of changes that the FFA has seen since it began in 1923.
What’s even more exciting than how much agriculture has changed in the past 50 years is how fast agriculture is changing today. What we have seen is that each generation in our country becomes one more generation of American society that is removed from the farm. This creates less and less understanding about where our food comes from and how it is produced. Therefore, the demand for excellent leaders in the agriculture industry that can proactively advocate the importance of agriculture continues to rise. That demand has in turn placed pressure upon my generation’s shoulders to be able to carry the load when our time comes. I have no doubt that my generation of FFA members (over 523,000 members strong nation-wide) will rise to the challenge to see that agriculture continues to flourish, just as it has since the first person grew their first crop.