BOISE — Hundreds of Idaho FFA members from around Idaho, wearing their traditional blue jackets, met with legislators and farm industry leaders during the group’s annual Cenarrusa Day on the Hill event.
“I loved seeing those blue jackets around the Capitol today,” Lt. Gov. Brad Little, a Republican rancher and farmer from Emmett, told several hundred FFA members during a luncheon. “You’re the future of the state of Idaho.”
The event provides FFA members a chance to learn first-hand how public policy is developed and meet with leaders of the state’s agricultural industry.
Little said one of the most crucial issues facing the state’s economy is its talent pool. He said the skills FFA members acquire through the program are “critical for Idaho to be in the condition we need to be in. All of the things you learn are critical to our future.”
The event is named after former Idaho Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa, who died in 2013 and whose 51 years in the Legislature and executive branches of Idaho government made him the longest serving public servant in state history.
He started the first ag classes at Cambridge and Carey high schools and was a strong supporter of Idaho agriculture.
During the luncheon, Freda Cenarrusa, his wife of 66 years, announced that the proceeds from the sale of 22 acres of the family ranch would be used to support Idaho FFA.
She was one of three people who received honorary FFA memberships during the luncheon.
Pete and Freda Cenarrusa “were a true partnership, working hand in hand on behalf of our great state and its agricultural industry,” Idaho FFA Secretary Jenny Bautista said.
Sen. Jeff Siddoway, a Republican sheep rancher from Terreton, also received an honorary FFA membership for his lifelong support of Idaho agriculture and FFA.
“Sen. Siddoway has been active in promoting the Idaho livestock and crop industries, locally, statewide, nationally and internationally,” Bautista said.
Honorary FFA membership was also granted to former Rep. Gayle Batt, who during her time in the legislature provided crucial support for the Idaho Ag Education Initiative, which provided about $2 million more in annual funding for secondary ag education, including FFA programs, in Idaho.
Batt, who was raised on her family’s farm in Wilder, “has worked countless hours to protect the agriculture industry that she loves,” Bautista said.
During the event, Idaho Cooperative Council President Jack Ingram presented friend of the industry awards to Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, and Sen. Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston.
The ICC represents agricultural co-ops in Idaho and sponsors the FFA event.
Bedke, a rancher, has been Idaho’s Speaker of the House since 2012 and is a former president of the Idaho Cattle Association as well as former director of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
“I love it when you guys are at the Capitol,” Bedke told FFA members.
Johnson is a graduate of Leadership Idaho Agriculture and served several terms as a commissioner for the Port of Lewiston.