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Agriculture Education To Take Massive Hit If State Budget Is Approved

Published On: Feb 15 2014 11:32:38 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 16 2014 01:04:28 AM CST

State Cutting Future Farmers of America

SALINAS, Calif. -

California is home to 74,000 agriculture students enrolled in 300 agriculture education programs. Yet ag education could take a massive hit if Gov. Jerry Brown's 2014-15 budget is approved.

Brown is proposing to cut agriculture incentive grants to add money to the state's general education fund. This could hurt the future of the farming industry.

Hartnell College hosted the Future Farmers of America Field Day. Thursday, an agriculture competition in which schools across the central coast battle each other in events from welding to tractor operating to vegetable judging.

"It's something unique, something different that not many kids are aware of," said Chantel Pizano, a Soledad High School student and Vice President of her Future Farmers of America chapter.

Pizano’s future to compete and get out of the classroom to learn about the agriculture business relies heavily on the proposed California budget.

Right now, Future Farmers of America and agriculture education programs across California get $4.1 million from the state's agriculture incentive grant. That's only .002 percent of the whole budget.

Adding that money to the general education fund, "would only spread 66 cents to every single student in the state of California," said Travis Wyrick, an agriculture teacher at Everett Alvarez High School.

With the loss of the grant, it could mean the end of programs such as learning how to drive a tractor. Agriculture teachers say this might make students lose interest in the business. In other words, if they aren’t getting a hands-on experience, agriculture will appear less appealing.

“I would be very sad since they are taking away the chances that I already had from the kids who are interested in the program," Pizano said.

The cut would also pull the pedals off Wyrick's floriculture teaching career. He stands to lose his supplies and resources.

"The question is not are we building support for those schools but instead are we going to hinder successful programs that are already established," Wyrick said.

Central Coast News tried to contact Assemblyman Luis Alejo, Sen. Anthony Cannella and Gov. Brown for comment but did not receive a response.