If one Nebraska senator gets her way, the state will soon have a task force focused on studying whether agriculture plays an adequate role in school curriculum.
The Associated Press reports that the Nebraska Legislature’s Agriculture Committee is set to debate a bill introduced by Senator Kate Sullivan. If passed, the Agriculture Literacy Task Force would be created to address the need to include agriculture in state-wide curriculum for K-12 students.
The Unicameral Update, the Nebraska’s Legislature’s official news source, reported that the committee heard the bill on Jan. 31.
According to Sen. Sullivan, the need for the Agriculture Literacy Task Force is driven by the need for students to understand the impact of agriculture on their daily lives.
“Agriculture is much too important to our state to only be taught to a small number of students who may already be considering agricultural careers,” Sen. Sullivan said in the Unicameral Update report.
If passed, the task force would involve a seven-person panel that would evaluate current standards and curricula and provide a report of recommendations to the Legislature. The task force would be dissembled at the end of the year.
Supporters of the bill, including former Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom coordinator Ellen Hellerich, point to the increasing disconnect between agricultural producers and consumers. Partly to blame for this disconnect is the availability of food for Americans.
“We pay less than 10 percent of our income on food, the lowest in the world,” Hellerich said. “Most people have no idea where their food comes from.”
Those in opposition of the bill include Brian Halstead, representing the Nebraska Department of Education. According to Halstead, there is no need for the task force.
“Work with us to integrate this into our standards,” Halstead said. “Why create another task force?”
Roger Breed, the Nebraska Commissioner of Education, agreed with Halstead and told the Associated Process that work on revising school curriculums has begun. A report is due by October.
The Agriculture Committee took no immediate action on this bill.