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FFA's New Century Farmer conference begins 14th year

A new generation of aspiring farmers is filtering into Des
Moines, Iowa this weekend from 24 states for the 14th annual New
Century Farmer (NCF) conference. 
The National FFA Organization selected 50 young people to participate in
the five-day program that will prepare the students for a future in production
agriculture.

The NCF conference will be held in Johnston, Iowa at the
Global headquarters of program sponsor Pioneer Hi-Bred a Dupont business, from
July 25 through July 29.  Other
sponsors include Rabo AgriFinance, Case IH, CSX Corporation, and Successful Farming magazine as a media
partner.

This year’s theme is “Grow,” as students will focus on
growing each angle of a business until they have a complete vision statement detailing
their business plans for the next decade.

Industry experts will lead discussions and workshops on
topics including current agriculture trends, the global marketplace and
implementing technology.

“It’s essential that the future farmers of America know the
importance of recognizing the global challenge farmers are facing,” Marty
Tatman, National FFA Organization Education Specialist and NCF conference
coordinator said.  “They are
expected to produce more food on less land.  They’re going to have to take advantage of new technology
and the opportunity and value of networking.”

The participants will also take part in “Operation Tours” at
Bridgestone/Firestone plant, the Louis Dryfuss Ethanol Plant, Covered Bridges
Winery and Hawkeye Breeders Services.

This week marks the program’s third year hosting NCF alumni,
which has grown from 30 participants to 65 this year.  The alumni will join the program for two days to discuss how
their experience at the NCF conference impacted their current operations.

“We’re hoping that we can grow the bridge between alumni and
new NCF participants so they can learn from each other,” Tatman said.

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