Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Remarks to Members of Future Farmers of America.

July 22, 1959

THANK YOU--thank you very much. First of all, let me thank you for the gifts. They are most attractive and certainly will be useful back in Gettysburg when the winters come around.

I always get a kick out of meeting with a bunch of young people. This is especially true when I find that you are interested in agriculture, are taking the vocational courses in your high schools, and are here for a program to improve your leadership abilities in your own communities.

I can't think of anything more important. First of all, if you are a farmer and know the relationship of the farm and its products to our economy and to our place in the world, you have to have a broad understanding of the United States, its citizenship, its economy, and its relationship with the other countries. Because of your capacity, as future leaders as well as future farmers, you have the potentiality of influencing many, many thousands out and beyond the confines of just your own organization.

Then, being young, you have got many years to do it. Every once in a while I look at one of my grandchildren--about the age of that little girl over there--and I say to myself: when she is my age it will be the year 2011, or something like that. That sounds an awfully long way ahead. But if you can look at your own school histories and look back, say 50 years, as to the situation that then existed, in farming, in transportation, in communications, in our thinking, and in our relations with the world, you will see that a veritable revolution has already taken place.

You have got to be prepared for even a more rapidly developing revolution in all of these things, for the simple reason that the speed of acceleration has gone up so fast. In 50 years since man first flew--the Russians sometimes say something else, we say that the Wrights flew 50 years ago--but from that airplane to the jet, the jet fighter, that goes two or three times the speed of sound is no greater progress than you are going to see between what you know today and in that year 2009, 50 years ahead.

You people are going to be the ones to influence it. You are going to shape it, and you are going to make it the kind of world in which you want to live--and indeed in which in many respects you must live, if you are going to live at all.

This is the kind of thing that is in front of you. I don't like the word "challenge" particularly, I like to think of the prospects, the opportunities that lie out ahead of an individual, no matter what his age. How rich those opportunities are, how vast they are, when they are put in front of the imagination of youngsters. That is the kind of thing I hope for you. It is the kind of thing that I believe you will be doing, and I certainly assure you of my confidence that you will do it well.

Now, as to farming itself, I just talked to Mr. Hester, your president, and he is a dairy farmer. I am interested in beef. They are both good industries, and as far as I can work at it, I am going to be trying to improve the beef industry. No one will notice it, of course, but it will still be fun to try. I can imagine the fun each of you gets out of the thing you are trying to do in agriculture that is your specialty for the moment, and maybe for your life. But I say this: agriculture is a part of this great complex we know as America, and a part of America's relationships to the whole world. As America is the leader, so you must be.

I can't say in words sufficiently emphatic to convey my full meaning when I say God bless you all. I hope for you all the luck, and the happiness, the enjoyment and the satisfaction that life can possibly bring to you.

Goodbye--good luck.

Note: The President spoke in the Rose Garden. The gifts to which he referred were a blanket and a gold paperweight bearing the FFA insignia. Later, he referred to Adin Hester, President of Future Farmers of America.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks to Members of Future Farmers of America. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235173

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