Bill would create agricultural literacy task force

Addressing the inclusion of agriculture in current K-12 standards and curricula would be the focus of a task force proposed by a bill heard Jan. 31 by the Agriculture Committee.

LB884, introduced by Cedar Rapids Sen. Kate Sullivan, would establish the Agricultural Literacy Task Force. Sullivan said students need to have a thorough understanding of agriculture’s impact 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,” Sullivan said.

The seven-person panel would evaluate current standards and curricula and provide a report of recommendations to the Legislature. The task force would be dissembled on December 31, 2012.

Supporters of the bill cited an increasing disconnect between producers and consumers. Ellen Hellerich, former Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom coordinator, said the availability of food in the United States has contributed to the problem.

“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.”

Brian Halstead, representing the Nebraska Department of Education, testified in opposition, saying there is no need to create a task force. He suggested proponents of the bill work with the department during the standards revision process.

“Work with us to integrate this into our standards,” Halstead said. “Why create another task force?”

The committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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