AGree Criticizes K-12 Food and Ag Ed in US

John Davis

AGree1A group that represents a cross-section of the food and agriculture system says education in those areas in the U.S. is “disjointed and ineffective.” AGree released a paper that makes the claim and identifies needed reform.

The paper, “Food and Agricultural Education in the United States,” authored by Stephanie Mercier, former Chief Economist of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee and currently with the Farm Journal Foundation, is the most comprehensive summary to date of the current state of play in K-12 food and agriculture education, its evolution, and ideas that could help to focus and modernize instruction.

“Americans are increasingly interested in where their food comes from, yet are also more disconnected from agriculture than ever before. Agriculture literacy is critical; agriculture, food, and nutrition topics should be embedded in how we teach science and technology,” said Deborah Atwood, executive director of AGree. “Our current system is struggling to prepare the next generation for success.”

The paper outlines five recommendations to strengthen food and ag education, laying the foundation for the U.S. food and ag sector to meet the challenges facing the global food and ag system in the 21st century.

“We need to step up our game when it comes to food and ag education in both rural and urban America, or we will be woefully unprepared to compete in the global marketplace, which is now vital to U.S. agriculture,” said Dan Glickman, AGree Co-Chair and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

The paper offers five ideas to improve food and ag education:

1. Create a system that assesses and/or ranks the effectiveness of available curricula in food and ag education.
2. Link food and ag education to STEM programs for young people.
3. Establish a “Perkins Plus” program that would offer additional funds to programs deemed to be top performers.
4. Have the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service conduct a national survey to assess agricultural literacy.
5. Establish a committee to review progress in the area of food and ag education.

Ag Groups, Education