I believe in the future of farming with a faith born not of words, but of deeds, achievements won by past and present generations of farmers.
If you recognize that sentence, then you were probably a member of the Future Farmers of America.
You remember reciting it as the FFA creed at the beginning of FFA meetings or like me, participated in the creed speaking contest as a green hand, the name for first year members.
I memorized the FFA creed as a high school freshman 49 years ago and can recite the opening sentence easily.
wIt was one of my first attempts at public speaking, another wonderful goal of the FFA.
I read the FFA creed as it appears today and I saw there have been a few small changes made to update it from when it was written in 1930.
In the opening sentence, “Past and present generations of farmers” is now “past and present agriculturists.” There have been a few other word changes, but the principles of the basic creed remain intact.
To win at the different levels of competition, a creed speaker has to learn to recite the words written by someone else to sound as if they were their own. After the creed is recited, there is a brief questioning by the judges to each competitor about what the creed means to them
After winning the competition to represent our chapter, I won at the first level and was eliminated at the second level.
I remember struggling in 1961 to try to imagine what exactly “the future of farming” was. We have things mounted in our cabs today we could not have imagined 49 years ago. In fact, 49 years ago, a cab was a new idea.
The idea of using a combine to harvest corn was a new idea. My uncle Clarence, who made a living shelling corn, told me in the early 1960s that combines were going to put him out of business.
I still remember looking at him in disbelief. Uncle Clarence was right. Ten years later, corn shelling had almost gone the way of the threshing machine.
I do not struggle to understand “the future of farming” today and I have two wishes.
One wish is to see what will be here in another 49 years of progress. Whatever it is, I can only think I probably will not recognize the machines in use 49 years from now that we will use to till, plant, and harvest.
The other wish is to participate once again in a creed speaking contest knowing what I know now.
I will not have any trouble reciting any of the words of the FFA creed and then explaining their meaning.
As much as farming has changed, the principles of the FFA creed are as true today as they were when they were first written in 1930.
The FFA creed honors the timeless concepts of work, self-reliance, and the inherent quality of life found in agriculture.
Do a search for the FFA creed online. The word “online” was not around in 1962, either.
Read the FFA creed for yourself because it is relevant today. Do it as part of National FFA week, February 19-26.
Am I really an agriculturist? This may take some getting used to.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.
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