INDIANAPOLIS -- The National FFA Organization is accepting applications for its 2006 New Century Farmer Program, a highly competitive leadership program that helps prepare young U.S. men and women for the opportunities and challenges involved in 21st Century farming.

Applications for the program, which is sponsored by Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. and Rabobank as a special project of the National FFA Foundation, are due March 1, 2006.

Now in its eighth year, the New Century Farmer Program is an all-expense-paid weeklong educational seminar. The seminar provides participants with valuable learning they can apply to their own farming operations, as well as resources and a network of friends that they can draw upon throughout their careers.

The 2006 program, co-sponsored by Pioneer Hi-Bred International and Rabobank in conjunction with the National FFA Organization, will take place July 17 through 21 at the Pioneer Campus in Des Moines, Iowa.

The curriculum includes presentations and discussions with industry experts, educators, farmers, scientists, bankers and business leaders addressing topics such as:

  • the latest developments in agricultural technology

  • risk management and marketing

  • farm financing and business planning

  • demographic and socio-economic trends affecting U.S. farmers

  • issues in global agricultural trade, consumption and demand.

  • Participants also engage in workshops on personal and professional development, teambuilding activities, and networking with other farmers and agricultural leaders.

    The program is open to applicants ages 19-22 (must be 19 by March 1, 2006) now attending a two- or four-year post-secondary institution with a major in agriculture, and who plan to go into production agriculture following school. (Membership in the National FFA Organization is not required).

    Details and applications are available at:

    FFA is a national youth organization of 490,017 student members preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture with 7,210 local chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. FFA strives to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

    Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., a subsidiary of DuPont, is the world's leading source of customized solutions for farmers, livestock producers and grain and oilseed processors. With headquarters in Des Moines, Pioneer provides access to advanced plant genetics, crop protection solutions and quality crop systems to customers in nearly 70 countries.

    Rabobank is a global financial services leader providing agricultural financing solutions in the U.S. and key markets around the world. Founded by Dutch farmers in the 1890s as a finance cooperative, Rabobank today is a premier lender to global agriculture with over $600 billion in assets, operations in 38 countries, and among the 25 largest banks worldwide.

    SOURCE: FFA news release.