FFA has received expressions of concern regarding the support TransCanada provides to FFA through the National FFA Foundation. Of note is the circulation of an online petition that states:
“National FFA leaders: The controversial Keystone XL pipeline is a highly political issue that has negatively affected many farmers and ranchers across the middle of our country. FFA’s logo, which appears on TransCanada business cards, should not be used as an obvious political ploy that exploits FFA’s good reputation in rural communities for TransCanada’s political gain. Please set a good example for young people across America. Cut ties with TransCanada and demand that they remove FFA’s logo from their business cards and other promotional materials.”
We want to share that TransCanada did obtain permission through the National FFA Foundation to feature the FFA logo and the phrase “Proud Sponsor” on their business cards. This is consistent with the FFA Foundation’s desire to have our sponsors publicly share their support for the National FFA Organization. Typically, the FFA logo and “Proud Sponsors” tagline are featured on advertising and other corporate promotional materials. This is largely done at our request to promote both the FFA and build a wider group of supporters and advocates for FFA and agricultural education.
We recognize that putting the FFA logo on a company’s business card could create an impression that FFA is supportive of that company’s products or public agenda. Because such a perception would be unwarranted, we asked TransCanada to remove it from their cards. The company readily acknowledged our sensitivity and agreed to delete the FFA logo from their company cards. The National FFA Foundation will ensure other Foundation sponsors similarly do not use the FFA logo on business cards. We will continue to encourage Foundation sponsors to utilize the FFA logo and “Proud Sponsor” tagline on advertising and promotional materials for the reasons mentioned above.
Regarding a request for FFA to “cut ties” with TransCanada, the only ties that exist involve TransCanada’s voluntary standing as a sponsor of the National FFA Foundation. Several points are important to understand why TransCanada will remain welcomed as a supporter of FFA through the foundation.
First, FFA does not act as an advocate or pass along information from sponsors promoting political, commercial or social platforms. As an educational student organization, we are open to receive funding from many sources, including corporate, governmental, NGO or philanthropic groups or individuals, that will directly support our educational mission and programming.
Second, funding from TransCanada is dedicated to four specific areas of FFA programming—enhancement of FFA leadership development training for students; operation of national award competitions; development of agriculturally-based curriculum for secondary agriculture teachers; and the Agricultural Career Network that allows students to track educational achievements, apply for scholarships and pursue job opportunities during their education careers and beyond.
We are aware that, at any given time, a corporate, governmental, NGO, philanthropic or individual donor to the National FFA Foundation may be the subject of a public dispute or criticism. FFA is not in a position to evaluate and take sides in those disputes. Additionally, FFA members and agricultural students are not served by refusing qualified funding that creates educational and developmental opportunities for their advancement.
FFA has long enjoyed funding relationships with groups, but we have never acted as an advocate for their issues or agenda. We anticipate maintaining the same impartial relationship with TransCanada. Further, FFA has consistently declined to take partisan positions on issues in local, state and national political debates. Our role is to support the critical examination of issues by teachers and students so that they have opportunities to reach independent conclusions. TransCanada’s support of FFA though the National FFA Foundation directly supports those educational objectives.
We do understand the discomfort and misperception created by putting the FFA logo on TransCanada’s business cards, and we appreciate the company’s willingness to rectify the situation. We trust this information will provide a better understanding of the relationship we have with our FFA Foundation sponsors.