Rural funding issues concern UC ANR as well as FFA
The following editorial, recently published in the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, focuses on funding challenges that face the Future Farmers of America. Similar issues confront UC ANR programs and stakeholders, however, particularly the topic of education in rural areas of the state. We've reprinted the editorial in its entirety and have highlighted in bold key sections that may apply to UC ANR.
Our View: Long term funding solution for FFA could be an opportunity
Posted in Marysville Appeal-Democrat: Opinion
Posted: Monday, May 22, 2017 10:17 pm
You know that story we printed earlier this week about how state funding for career technical education, which includes the Future Farmers of America programs and other vocational programs, was in jeopardy?
Wait, on second thought, go ahead and mind. Because no one knows what exactly will happen over the long term.
Gov. Jerry Brown, in his latest state budget proposal, had taken $15 million a year from the Department of Education — funding designated for vocational programs — and routed it to the community college system. We went through a similar situation a couple of years ago, and, just like then, you could feel — out here in the countryside — the swelling of reaction and support for FFA.
Word then was received that the governor thought better of the idea and left the funding alone for at least this year.
Assemblyman James Gallagher's office forwarded an email to us Monday from Secretary Karen Ross of the California Department of Food and Agriculture: "This week I have heard from many of you about the status of the $15.4 million allocated at the state level for career technical education and the FFA program. Please be assured, Governor Brown remains committed to ongoing funding for these programs funded through the California Department of Education."
She says Brown is committed for this year and beyond.
We're not totally sure.
Gallagher's office also forwarded a letter signed by him, our state Sen. Jim Nielsen and state Sen. Ted Gains (1st District) concerning plans by the Department of Education to not fill the vacancy for the regional supervisor position for the FFA of this region. That position, according to their letter, oversees more than 9,500 FFA students and is vital for organizing FFA events and programs.
We're just disappointed a program so important to any area dependent on agriculture and other vocational trades would be shortchanged at all. The sums are paltry when considering the tens of billions of dollars agriculture brings to the state economy along with the hundreds of thousands of jobs in production agriculture and value added processing.
We can see how a bunch of legislators and officials from California's huge metropolitan areas would misjudge the importance of the FFA program. They need to get a better handle on the importance of the program. And we need to make their education a top goal, because it doesn't stop at funding for vocational education out in California's rural areas ... it's all sorts of misunderstandings and miscalculation about what makes an ag economy work. [Emphasis ours.]
We heard some other legislators were working on a bill to reinstate that funding Brown previously considered pulling. We'd like to see our legislators team up with others across the state and find a permanent solution to this funding issue so it doesn't continue popping up every few years.
And in the process, they might be able to inform urban lawmakers and officials about life out in the sticks. [Emphasis ours.]