Does the FFA have an official slogan? We know there is an official pledge and an official motto but is there an official slogan? This Friday Footnote will attempt to answer that question.
In the early days of the FFA the adult leadership often used a phrase they identified as a FFA slogan, but it was not an official slogan. It might have been a statement of fact or perhaps it could have been wishful thinking.
National FFA advisor, J. A. Linke, speaking to the National FFA Convention in 1940, stated “We have pretty well learned our slogan, ‘A Future Farmer is Always a Gentleman’” (FFA Convention Proceedings, 1940, p. 14.). W. A. Ross, FFA Executive Secretary speaking at the 1941 FFA Convention about tours and trips taken by FFA chapters, encouraged the members to “…practice the slogan that ‘A Future Farmers is Always a Gentleman.’” (FFA Convention Proceedings, 1941, p. 72). Ross also used this slogan in the 1939 Forward F.F.A. book.
A phrase that was sometimes identified as the FFA slogan, and at other times just printed as a stand-alone phrase, started to appear in the literature during the later part of the 1940s. In 1944 (October) the phrase “The successful farmer of tomorrow is the Future Farmer of today” appeared in Volume 7 of Vocational Trends (p. 134). This phrase also appeared in the American Farm Youth magazine in 1944 and 1945.
The booklet “Future Farmers of America in Action” was published by the FFA to promote the FFA. The 1945 version of this publication has the phrase “The Successful Farmer of Tomorrow is the Future Farmer of Today” on the first page of the booklet along with the FFA emblem and an explanation of the emblem followed by the FFA motto (which is not identified as the motto). See a copy of the first page of the 1945 "Future Farmers of American in Action" booklet below.
The 1947 version of the booklet had the slogan on the back cover. See below.
An article about the 1947 National FFA Convention contained in Missouri Schools (a publication of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) in January of 1948 (p. 47) asserts “The truthfulness of the slogan, ‘The Successful Farmer of Tomorrow is the Future Farmer of Today’” was demonstrated at the recent convention.
The book Starting to Farm, published by Interstate in 1948, was designed specifically for vocational agriculture students to help them enter farming. The book’s author, Ward Beard, was the Assistant Director for Vocational Education in the U. S. Office of Education and was previously the regional agricultural education agent for the western states. Chapter 7 on “Making Arrangements for a Farming Program” ends (p. 121) with the phrase “The successful farmer of tomorrow is the Future Farmer of today.” There is no explanation for the phrase.
The instructional booklet “Care and Maintenance of Farm Tractors” published by the FFA Foundation in 1948 has “The Successful Farmer of tomorrow is the Future Farmer of today” on the front cover. (see below)
In an article about the FFA Foundation Award winner for Farm Electrification for 1952, the Rural Electrification News states (FFA Salutes Young Farmers, p. 11) “Another rural youth organization growing fast in numbers and importance of rural electrification work done is the Future Farmers of America. Its slogan is: “The Successful Farmer of Tomorrow is the Future Farmer of Today.” See below.
The 1952 edition of the Handbook on Teaching Vocational Agriculture (Phipps & Cook, 1948) has the slogan with no accompany narrative on page 340.
An article about on-the-farm instruction in the March 1955 issue of The Agricultural Education Magazine mentions a “recent” slogan “The successful farmer of tomorrow is the Future Farmer of today” (Scarborough & Coggin, 1955, p. 196).
The Winter 1955 issue of The National Future Farmer had a picture of the newly elected national FFA officers with this caption “Here are the fellows you’ve picked as national officers to represent YOU on their Goodwill Tour, as they meet men in industry, government and agriculture; as they visit every state; and tell by word of mouth and by example that THE SUCCESSFUL FARMER OF TOMORROW IS THE FUTURE FARMER OF TODAY” (Meet Your National Officers, 1955, p. 28).
An article in The National Future Farmer about the 1956 Outstanding Farmer in Louisiana (James Graugnard) tells of his FFA activities as a high school student and then describes his current accomplishments and concludes the article with these words “Thus, once again it is proven that “The Successful Farmer of Tomorrow is the Future Farmer of Today” (Louisiana’s Top Farmer Former Future Farmer, 1956, p. 38).
So Does The FFA Have a Slogan?
Even though the phrase “The Successful Farmer of Tomorrow is the Future Farmer of Today” was widely used in the 1940s and 1950s and has been identified as the slogan, I could find no record of it being officially adopted by the FFA as the slogan during that time period. Official action to codify this phrase as the FFA slogan occurred in 1956. At the 1956 FFA convention the Official Manual Committee report contained the following recommendation “We wish to adopt a slogan entitled “The Successful Farmer of Tomorrow is the Future Farmer of Today.” (p. 35). Apparently, there was a good bit of discussion because the delegates had to recess for lunch and continue the discussion after lunch. Eventually, the Committee report was carried. (p. 26).
What happened after the delegates approved the adoption of the slogan? It appears nothing happened. A perusal of the FFA Board of Directors minutes for the entire year after the 1956 convention finds no mention of the slogan. The National Future Farmer magazine for 1957 does not mention the slogan. The FFA Manual for 1958 contains no mention of an official FFA slogan. Since the slogan had already been in use for at least a decade, perhaps the 1956 action was merely a formality. However, it is strange that the formal adoption of the slogan never made it into the FFA Manual given that the Official Manual Committee made the proposal. Perhaps someone just dropped the ball.
The FFA slogan has appeared in the literature on a regular basis since 1956. A 1957 newspaper advertisement saluting the Clallam County, Washington FFA members during National FFA Week featured the slogan (see below).
In an article written by Roger Holcomb, a vo-ag instructor, in the Iowa Soil and Water magazine in 1959 he states (p. 23) “’The successful farmer of tomorrow is the future farmer of today’ is an ideal sought by the North Central FFA chapter.”
In the February 23, 1978 Congression Record, Representative Fuqua of Florida stated (p. 4529) “…the FFA has lived up to its slogan, ‘The Successful Farmer of Tomorrow is the Future Farmer of Today’ time and time again.”
The 1984 edition of the World Book Encyclopedia (Volume 7, p. 512) states the slogan of the Future Farmers of America is “The Successful Farmer of Tomorrow is the Future Farmer of Today’.
The February-March 1962 issue of the Alabama Future Farmer features the phrase “The Successful Farmer of Tomorrow is the Future Farmer of Today” on the cover (See Below).
The website YouAskAndy.com is a collection of over 18,000 questions asked by kids over a 35 year period. In 1990 a question was asked by a 14-year-old from Billings, Montana about the FFA. The response included the statement that the slogan for the FFA is “The Successful Farmer of Tomorrow is the Future Farmer of Today”.
It appears there is an official FFA slogan and that it was adopted in 1956 even though it had been used widely before that date. The slogan has appeared periodically since 1956 (but not lately). A number of reputable individuals and organizations have identified "The Successful Farmer of Tomorrow is the Future Farmer of Today" as being the FFA Slogan.
The mystery is why does the slogan not appear in the FFA Manual? Perhaps the FFA leadership viewed the slogan as outdated (trying to get away from the Farmer image) and didn’t want to embrace it. Perhaps the FFA Board of Directors (BOD) did not approve of the delegate's actions but there is no record of that in the BOD minutes after the 1956 convention. Perhaps the FFA staff member responsible for keeping the manual updated goofed. Who knows?
A teaching idea might be to introduce the slogan to your students and see if they can come up with a revised slogan that is suitable for today.
Beard, W. P. (1948). Starting to Farm. The Interstate: Danville, IL.
FFA Salutes Young Farmers (1953, April-May). Rural Electrification News. Volume 18, Numbers 9 & 10.
Fuqua, D. (1978, February 23). Future Farmers of America, A Citadel of American Virtues. Congressional Record. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office
Louisiana’s Top Farmer Former Future Farmer (1956, October-November) The National Future Farmer, Volume 5, Number 1.
Meet Your National Officers (1955, March). The National Future Farmer, Volume 3, Number 2.
Phipps, L. & Cook, G. (1948). Handbook on Teaching Vocational Agriculture. The Interstate: Danville, Il.
Scarborough, C. & Coggin, J. (1955, March) More Effective Teaching Through On-The-Farm Instruction. The Agricultural Education Magazine. Volume 27, Number 9.