Greenville High School
FFA History & Statistics

The History of FFA

    Founded in 1928, the Future Farmers of America brought together students, teachers and agribusiness to solidify support for agricultural education. In Kansas City's Baltimore Hotel, 33 young farm boys charted a course for the future. They could not have foreseen how the organization would grow and thrive.

    Since 1928, millions of agriculture students - no one knows exactly how many - have donned the official FFA jacket and championed the FFA creed. FFA has opened its doors and its arms to minorities and women, ensuring that all students could reap the benefits of agricultural education. In the beginning there were 33. Seventy-five years later there are 457,000.

    Today, the National FFA Organization remains committed to the individual student, providing a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. Now, the organization is expanding the nation's view of "traditional" agriculture and finding new ways to infuse agriculture into the classroom.

    We know the power of 33. We see the power of 457,000. Now we celebrate the power of one. This is our mission; this is our goal.

Key Moments in FFA History

1917 - The Smith-Hughes National Vocational Education Act establishes vocational agriculture courses.

1926 - Henry Groseclose, an agriculture teacher trainer and former agricultural education instructor, helps organize the Future Farmers of Virginia for boys in agriculture classes. Soon similar groups are established across the country. The FFV would be used as a model for creation of the FFA in 1928.

1926 - The American Royal Livestock Show invites vocational agriculture students to participate in National Livestock Judging Contests in Kansas City, Mo.

1928 - During the National Livestock Judging Contests, 33 students from 18 states establish the Future Farmers of America to provide leadership training for high school students of vocational agriculture. During this first annual convention, Leslie Applegate of Freehold, N.J., is elected president and dues are set at 10 cents annually. The national convention was held in Kansas City 1928-1998.

1929 - The official colors-national blue and corn gold-are adopted. They are still used today.

1930 - At the 3rd National FFA Convention, the membership issue is clarified when the all-member, male delegation amend the constitution restricting membership to boys only under Article III, Section B. The official creed is adopted.

1933 - Fredericktown, Ohio, FFA members arrive at the national convention in crisp, blue corduroy jackets with the FFA emblem on the back. Official delegates vote to adopt the jacket as the organization's official dress. Members still wear the nationally-recognized jackets today, honoring the tradition and history of FFA. More than 50,000 are manufactured each year.

Members across the country celebrate the first National FFA Day. In 1948, this would be changed to FFA Week and celebrated during George Washington's birthday to recognize his pioneering contributions to American agriculture.

1934 - All states except Rhode Island and Alaska have chartered associations. Rhode Island would charter an association in 1950 and Alaska in 1976.

1935 - New Farmers of America (NFA), an organization for African-American boys interested in agriculture, is formed and eventually includes 13 states. It is patterned after the New Farmers of Virginia formed in 1927.

1944 - The National FFA Foundation, Inc., was established in Washington, D.C., to raise money for FFA programs and activities from business, industry, government, individuals and foundation sponsors. Today, the Foundation is located in Indianapolis, In., and raises more than $7.3 million annually.

1948 - FFA members participate in the organization's first international exchange program with the Young Farmers Club of Great Britain. By 1996, the FFA would send more than 350 students to more than 25 countries annually.

1950 - The U.S. Congress passes Public Law 81-740, which grants the FFA a Federal Charter and stipulates that a U.S. Department of Education staff member be the national FFA advisor. Today FFA continues to be recognized by Congress as an intra-curricular part of the educational program.

1953 - FFA celebrates its silver anniversary. President Dwight D. Eisenhower is the first president to address a national FFA convention. Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George Bush and Ronald Reagan would address the FFA in the future. The U.S. Post Office issues a special stamp to commemorate the founding of the FFA.

1959 - The FFA headquarters is established in Alexandria, Va., on land which was part of George Washington's estate. The FFA had owned the land since 1939 and used it for national camps. During the dedication, members participating in the first National Leadership Conference for State Officers place a hand full of soil from each state around the flagpole.

1965 - The New Farmers of America (NFA), the organization for African-American agricultural education students, merges with the FFA, adding 50,000 members.

1966 - The FFA National Agricultural Career Show, a trade show especially for students, exposes national convention attendees to educational and career opportunities in agriculture. By 1999, 350 exhibitors participated and occupied 400,000 square feet.

1969 - Women are allowed national membership, which made it possible for them to hold office and participate in competitive events at the regional and national level. Prior to this amendment women were permitted membership only at the local and state level. Today, 35% of FFA membership is female, while 47% of state leadership positions are held by women. The National FFA Foundation hires first full-time staff member in the Madison, Wis. office, the Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture Donald McDowell.

1971 - The National FFA Alumni Association is founded, providing opportunities for former FFA members and other supporters to become involved with their local student chapters. Today, the Alumni Association has 42,000 members.

1974 - Fred McClure of Texas is elected national FFA secretary, becoming the organization's first African-American national officer. McClure would later serve on President George Bush's staff in Washington, D.C.

1988 - Delegates to the national FFA convention change "Future Farmers of America" to the "National FFA Organization" to recognize the growth of agriculture and agricultural education to encompass the more than 300 careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture. Delegates also opened FFA membership to middle school students.

1991 - The Virgin Islands and Guam are granted association charters and five chapters from Micronesia are granted affiliate chapter charters.

1994 - Corey Flournoy of Chicago, Ill., is elected national FFA president, becoming the organization's first African-American president and first urban student leader.

1996 - FFA announces its move of the national FFA convention from Kansas City, Mo., to Louisville, Ky.

1998 - The national convention was held in Kansas City for the last time in November 1998; the convention set an attendance record, drawing 49,240 members, guests and supporters. Additionally, the National FFA Center was moved from Alexandria, Va., to Indianapolis, In. The National FFA Center houses the National FFA Organization, the National FFA Foundation and the National FFA Alumni Association. Approximately 1,000 guests attended the dedication ceremonies on July 20, 1998. And, much like the 1959 dedication, members participating in the State Presidents' Conference placed a cup full of soil from their respective state at the base of the flagpole.

1999 - The national FFA convention is held in Louisville, Ky., for the first time and will stay in Louisville through 2005; attendance was 46,918.

2000 - FFA continues to expand opportunities for agricultural career preparation by introducing one new career development event and two demonstration events. The National FFA Archives, located at IUPUI in Indianapolis, officially opens.

General Agricultural Statistics

Average Annual Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in the Food and Agricultural Sciences, United States, 1995-2000:

  • Marketing, Merchandising and Sales Representatives 14,353
  • Scientists, Engineers and Related Specialists 13,922
  • Managers and Financial Specialists 5,613
  • Communication and Education Specialists 5,295
  • Social Service Professionals 4,862
  • Agricultural Production Specialists 3,873
Today's Farm
  • Agriculture is the nation's largest employer with more than 22 million people working in some phase-from growing food and fiber to selling it at the supermarket.
  • There are 2.19 million farms in the United States. The average size of U.S. farms in 1999 was 432 acres.
  • There are 165,102 farms operated by women in the United States.
  • Individuals, family partnerships or family corporations own 99% of U.S. farms with fewer than 10 stockholders. Non-family corporations own only 0.4% of America's farms and ranches.

Consumers

  • Americans spend 10.9% of their income on food, the lowest percentage in the world. India spends 51.3%, Mexico spends 24.5%, South Africa spends 27.5%, Japan spends 17.6%, Italy spends 17.2% and the UK spends 11.2%.
  • It takes about 40 days for most Americans to earn enough money to pay for their food supply for the entire year. It takes that same American 124 days to earn enough money to pay federal, state and local taxes for the year.
  • The annual per capita consumption of Americans is: 204.5 pounds of milk, 196.8 pounds of flour and cereal products, 186.5 pounds of fresh vegetables, 131.8 pounds of fresh fruits, 115.6 pounds of red meat, 65 pounds of poultry, 65.3 pounds of fats and oils, 28 pounds of cheese, 18.9 pounds of rice and 244 eggs.

International

  • The United States provides food at a lower cost, as a percentage of income, than any other country in the world. We produce sufficient surplus to be the nations leading exporter.
  • The United States produces 46% of the world's soybeans, 41% of the world's corn, 20.5% of the world's cotton and 13% of the world's wheat.
  • The United States exports $49.1 billion in agricultural products annually and imports $37.5 billion. Asia (not including Japan, China or East Asia) imports the most ($10.5 billion) and Russia imports the least ($.46 billion).

Economy

  • The American farmer regains 20¢ of every dollar in agricultural products sold, 39¢ goes to labor, 6¢ goes to taxes and interest, 8.5¢ goes to packaging and the remainder goes to fuel, electricity, transportation, advertising, etc.
  • Farm receipts total $208.2 billion dollars each year; most is meat animals ($46,917,000), least is tobacco ($2,308,000).

Technology and Environment

  • A growing number of farmers and ranchers are using computers and modern technology; 90.7% use a computer, 87.4% own a cellular telephone, 51.3% communicate by fax, 72.2% have access to the Internet and 24.5% make online purchases using e-commerce.
  • As of May 2000, farmers enrolled 31.4 million acres of their land in the Conservation Reserve Program to protect the environment and provide habitat for wildlife. Farmers and ranchers provide food and habitat for 75% of the nation's wildlife.
  • Erosion rate by water on U.S. croplands has been reduced by 24% in the last 18 years.
  • Only 2 labor hours and one acre of land required to produce 100 bushels of corn, with farmer using a tractor, 5-bottom plow, 25-foot plow, 25-foot tandem disk, planter, 25-foot herbicide applicator, 15-foot self-propelled combine and trucks.
*All information gathered from the American Farm Bureau Federation, "Farm Facts" booklet, updated 2000.
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