Agribusiness leader proposes Wisconsin help pay FFA, other dues

The Executive Director of the Wisconsin Agri-Business Association says there’s a way to get more young people involved in ag and other career training. 

Tom Bressner tells Brownfield his organization wants to help more high-school-aged students better prepare for the workforce.

Bressner says one example is Wisconsin has 25 thousand FFA members but the Department of Public Instruction says more than 42 thousand students took an ag class. “If you’re a member of the FFA, you’re going to take a project, you’re going to keep record books, you’re going to do your own budget, you’re going to record your best management practices. You’re actually workforce development. What if we could fund the membership dues for people that take an ag class?”

Bressner says the concept is patterned after a successful youth training program in the 2022 Illinois State Budget. “The Illinois Department of Agriculture is funding the membership dues for every ag student in the State of Illinois. They kind of were the breaking ground, and they’re finding so many more members and so much more success out of that.”

Bressner says many educational programs are underutilized, and the cost to families might be part of the reason why.  Along with seeking support from state lawmakers, Bressner is meeting with the State’s Department of Public Instruction soon to discuss what can be done if funding becomes available to help agriculture, agribusiness, and other areas that need workers. He says, “We’re not the only area. This whole state needs it so let’s get our high school students more involved and let’s do the funding to make it happen.”

Bressner spoke to Brownfield at the Wisconsin Agribusiness Association Legislative Day at Hartmann Farms near Lodi, Wisconsin Monday.

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