FFA helps local farmers, food pantries


Courtesy of: Normal FFA

The Normal FFA Chapter posted a video of their participation in the #10GallonChallenge – a social media campaign aiming to help reduce the current milk surplus driving down the cost of milk for local dairy farmers.

A U.S milk surplus has dairy farmers nationwide struggling to make a profit on the product. In response to this issue, the NCHS FFA has joined a movement to help relieve farmers of this surplus and spread awareness to the issue which American dairy farmers are currently facing – this movement is the 10 Gallon Challenge.

The 10 Gallon Challenge uses social media to challenge others to purchase 10 gallons of locally produced milk and to donate the product to a local food pantry. Like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, people are expected to post a video or picture of themselves completing the task, before then challenging friends, family or organizations by tagging them in the post to complete the challenge themselves. The goal is to create a viral cycle spreading awareness to the issue.

While the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was created to raise money for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease,  the 10 Gallon Challenge aims to help support local farmers by decreasing the surplus dairy while donating the products to those in need.

The Normal FFA Chapter’s 10 Gallon Challenge spread quickly through Facebook – gaining over 410,000 views and 1,000 comments since being posted three weeks ago when the group donated their gallons of the Midwest-produced Prarie Farms milk to Operation Safe Habor in Bloomington-Normal. 

While the 2015 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised over $115 million for A.L.S. research, there is not a specific goal set by the FFA. They are confident in the importance of local agriculture and its need for support.

There are over 7,000 FFA Chapters in the United States, we are all like one big family,” Georgia Merkle, FFA communications chair said, “we will do anything to support the industry.”

The Unites States, as Merkle said, is the reach of the 10 Gallon Challenge, as the FFA saw WSAW-tv in Green Bay, Wisconsin promote participation by using the hashtag “10 gallon challenge” on social media.

With Wisconsin being the second highest dairy producing state in the U.S., the suffering of farmers there is potentially worse than those in Illinois. 

With all the support that the challenge has received (over 1,450 likes through Facebook alone), there are still those who are opposed to the idea of the 10 gallon challenge.

“We’ve been dealing with some backlash from anti-Agriculture groups,” Mrs. Liz Harfst-Harris, the FFA chapter sponsor, said. “However, those comments are minimal compared to the immense positive support we’ve received.” 

More information can be found by following the Normal FFA Chapter page – @thenormalffa – on Facebook.