Miss. Senator Supports Five-Year Extension of USDA Grant Program for 4-H & FFA Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) is an original cosponsor of a bill to extend a grant program geared toward supporting agricultural youth and scouting programs in rural communities and small towns.

The Youth Lead Act (S.4499) would reauthorize grants for the National 4–H Council, National Future Farmers of America Organization, and national scouting programs to expand their outreach to youth.  The bill would authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to award flexible grants to establish pilot projects to expand the programs carried out by the organizations in rural areas and small towns.

“The 4-H and FFA programs have a very good reputation for offering rural youth programs that build their skills, character, and leadership, all of which can be applied throughout their lives.  These programs in Mississippi and across the country should continue to benefit from USDA support,” said Hyde-Smith, who a member of the Senate FFA and 4-H caucuses.

U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced the bipartisan measure, which is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.).  Companion legislation has been introduced by U.S. Representative Don Bacon (R-Neb.).

The National 4-H Council and National FFA Organization have also endorsed the legislation.

“The Youth Lead Act of 2024 represents an investment in the future of our nation’s youth. This legislation would enable Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program to expand experiences for all youth to develop the skills they need to succeed in work and in life,” said Jill Bramble, National 4-H Council President and CEO.

“On behalf of the membership of the National FFA Organization, I express our thanks to Senators Todd Young and Chris Coons for their support of FFA, 4-H, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts through the ‘Youth Lead Act of 2024,’” said Dr. Travis Park, National FFA Advisory Board Chair.  “Their commitment, along with the commitment of their colleagues who have signed onto the bill, shows the value that the U.S. Senate puts toward youth development.  We hope this legislation will be included in the final versions of the farm bill conversations and that the grant program receives consideration through the appropriations process.”

Hyde-Smith, as ranking member of the Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade Subcommittee, helped lead a recent hearing titled, Pathways to Farming: Helping the Next Generation of Farmers.  At that hearing, the Senator stressed the importance of writing a new farm bill that will attract more young Americans to become farmers and ranchers.