Ag Issues

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Participants in the Agricultural Issues CDE research the pros and cons of an agricultural issue, and present their findings and theories to a panel of judges. The event helps students to develop critical thinking, problem solving and formal communication skills. There can be 3 to 7 participants per team. The team is scored as a group and there will be no individual score.

Preparation of your Ag Issues CDE team could start this semester. Successful advisors recommend an early start on this event. It might be a good idea to archive the 2012 National Ag Issues video, just in case it gets deleted from the site before you get to it.

If Ag Issues CDE is new to you, let me suggest previewing the advice at this link.  Ag Issues
Current Resources and Guidance for Ag Issues

A school cannot use the same or similar topic a second time.

If there are any problems with the scheduled presentations times, please contact the event superintendent.


Richard Douglass
110 N Vermont
Cortland, NE 68331

Event Information

Presentation Schedule - Order of Presentations Posted by Random Drawing
School ReportSet-up TimePresentation Time
  3:30 PM Room A 4 PM
4 PM Room B 4:30 PM
  4:30 PM Room A 5 PM
5 PM Room B 5:30 PM
5:30 PM Room A 6 PM
6 PM Room B 6:30 PM
6:30 PM Room A 7 PM

Required Supplies

  • Tables, chairs, extension cords, cart, and a screen will be provided.
  • All additional materials or equipment need to be supplied by the team.
Important dates to keep in mind are:

March 13, 2017  FOUR  portfolio's must be postmarked by or on this date and sent to:

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
c/o Jennifer Greenlee
Ag Issues CDE
143 Filley Hall
Lincoln, NE 68583-0947

After March 20 Order for the Ag Issues CDE event should be posted.

For any changes or cancellations, please email Dr. Richard Douglass at  or call day or night 402-798-7430 as soon as possible.

I look forward to overseeing the event and watching your wonderful presentations on the day of the event!! You've all helped educate us at UNL, as well as your local forums, on contemporary issues in the state of Nebraska. Keep up the good work!

State Rules and Format
  1.  Local forums should be completed prior to submission of the portfolios if possible. However, if you must schedule a forum after portfolios are submitted, (but before the event) be sure you either email the additional forum pages to the superintendent   ASAP , or bring FOUR copies of the forum summary page(s) with you the day of the event so that the judges can have access to those pages. There will be no point penalty in this case. It would also be advisable to send a note in each portfolio that one or more forums are scheduled and that you plan to submit that information by your event time so that the judges can plan for the later submission.

  2. On the national site is an attachment for "Helpful Hints". I strongly recommend you read that section.

  3. Be sure to review the instructional materials Dr. Jerry Peters has on his website listed at the end of Ch. 2 - Ag Issues section of the handbook.

  4. If you are starting a team for the first time and would like to see an example of a winning portfolio, please email Dr. Douglass at  requesting portfolio examples. That site is:

Ag Issues National CDE Rules  - National FFA CDE Handbook through Ch. 2: Ag Issues

The State Ag Issues CDE follows the National Rules as closely as possible.

  1. The purpose of the agricultural issues forum is to present a current issue to a public audience; therefore, professional ethics and standards are to be considered. Ignoring truthful information, falsifying needed information, using unreliable sources and plagiarism are violation examples which could result in disqualification.

  2. A minimum of three and a maximum of seven students who are actively participating, orally presenting and available to answer the judges' questions. To be eligible for awards each student must take an active role in the presentation. This includes active participation in the presentation and making themselves available for questions from the judges.

  3. Presentations may include official FFA dress, costumes, props, skits and other creative paraphernalia.

  4. A minimum of three competent and unbiased judges will be provided. They will be instructed not to take sides on the issue(s). Professors and industry representatives are recommended. The superintendent of this CDE will adequately prepare the judges before the event competition.
  1. Equipment Provided- Equipment provided includes extension cords, tables, a cart, and chairs and a front projection screen. Other equipment is allowed, but the presenting team must provide it.

  2. Each team will conduct a presentation on the issue developed and presented at the local level.

  3. The issue will come from one of the following eight agricultural issue topic areas as listed in the Focusing on Agricultural Issues instructional materials:
    Environmental Issues
    Agricultural Technology Issues
    Animal Issues
    Agricultural Career Issues
    Economy and Trade Issues
    Agricultural Policy Issues
    Food Safety Issues

  4. The same agricultural issue presentation and portfolio will not be used in subsequent years by the same chapter and/or advisor.

  5. Research on the topic must be current and students must be involved in all the research of the topic and development of the portfolio.

  6. The portfolio should include items described in a, b and c below, and will be limited to ten pages single sided or five pages double sided maximum not including cover page. The cover page will include the title "stated as a question" of the issue, the date of the state qualifying event, name, address and phone number of the chapter. A maximum of ten (10) points will be deducted for exceeding the maximum amount of pages and/or for not including the cover page containing required information. A penalty of 10% (2.5 points) will be assessed for documents received after the postmark deadline. If document is not received seven days after postmark deadline, the team may be subject to disqualification.

    (a)  A maximum of two pages of the portfolio will include a summary of the issue, answering the questions that are most relevant to your topic:
    List course(s) in which instruction occurred including the number of students involved in the instruction of the issue. (See Objective 6.)
    Why is this issue important now?
    What is the nature of the issue?
    Who is involved in the issue?
    How can the issue be defined?
    What is the historical background of the issue?
    What caused the issue?
    What are the risks?
    What are the benefits?
    Is there strong disagreement on the issue? 

    (b)  A bibliography of all resources and references cited which may include personal interviews and any other supporting material.

    (c)  Provide documentation that local forum(s) occurred prior to state qualifying event such as:
    Letters from organizations
    News articles
    Photos showing attendance at forums

    (d)  Please state when, where and to whom the forum(s) were presented and indicate how many community members were in attendance at each of the forum(s).

    (e)  A chapter must have a minimum of five high quality public forums prior to their state qualifying event in order to receive the maximum of 15 points.

    Multiple organizations attending the same forum will count as one forum. If more than one forum is held on the same day, the starting time of each forum must be independently documented.Portfolio judges may take into consideration the quality and quantity of presentations made to audiences outside of the school. No points will be awarded for school presentations to teachers and students. In addition, no points shall be awarded for forums presented as any part of a local or state FFA competition.

    High quality forums are those presentations made to community groups that would have an interest in the issue. Suggested procedures for setting up these presentations and examples of community groups have been provided in the Agricultural Issues Forum Presenter's Guide. High quality forums can also be with smaller numbers of individuals who hold elected, appointed or some other official position that will be making decisions on the issue.

    Examples of low quality forums would be dropping in at a local business and giving your presentation to the workers or going to the home of one of the parents to make a presentation. Low quality forums will receive zero or minimal points. 

  7. Time Limits: Thirty minutes will be allowed for set up. The presentation will be a maximum of 15 minutes in length. The presenters will receive a signal at 10 minutes and 14 minutes. At 15 minutes the timekeeper will announce that time is up, and the presentation will end. A maximum of seven (7) minutes for questions and answers will be allotted. Questions and answers will terminate at the end of seven (7) minutes. Thirty minutes will be allowed for take down and the next team setup.

  8. The presentations will be designed to be viewed by the judges. The audience at-large will not be of concern to the presenters.

  9. The judges may ask questions of all individuals of the presenting team. Each individual is encouraged to respond to at least one question from the judges.


1. Team Presentation:

A. Introduction, Pro, Con and Summary of Pro and Con (20 points each, 80 points total). There will be a 5-point deduction from the scorecard of any team that draws a conclusion supporting a pro or con viewpoint during the formal presentation.

B. Overall presentation (participation of each member of the team, quality and power of the presentations, creativity, stage presence) ( 20 points)

C. Questions (25 points)

2. Portfolio: 10 single sided pages maximum or 5 double sided pages. (3 parts, 25 points total) Stapled not bound or in folder.

A. Summary of the Issue, 2 pages maximum (5 points).
B. Bibliography (5 points).
C. Documentation of local forums (15 points).

i. Please state when, (date and time) where, and to whom the forums were presented. If you indicate that more than one forum was held on the same date, independent documentation of the time of day the forums were held must be provided.

ii. Maximum of 10 points will be deducted for exceeding the maximum number of pages and/or not including cover page containing required information. Prior to the event, the portfolios will be judged and scored by the presentation judges using the portfolio scorecard. Presentation judges will be furnished with copies of the team portfolio, which they may use to formulate questions.

3. Judges' ranking will be used to place teams.

4. Teams shall be ranked in numerical order on the basis of the final score to be determined by each judge without consultation. The judges' ranking of each team then shall be added, and the winner will be that team whose total ranking is the lowest. Other placings will be determined in the same manner (low rank method of selection).

5. Proper grammar, correct spelling, and proper editing of text are important. The most current edition of The American Psychological Association (APA) style guide should be used for all research citations. Adherence to these editorial guidelines is expected to receive maximum points for the Portfolio score.

6. Ag Issues Score Card

Scoring Summary


Portfolio...........25 points
Presentation.....125 points

Team Score:  portfolio + presentation -  lowest score won last year


Ties will be broken based on the greatest number of low ranks. Team's low ranks will be counted, and the team with the greatest number of low ranks will be declared the winner. If a tie still exists, then the event superintendent will rank the team's response to questions. The team with the greatest number of low ranks from the response to question will be declared the winner. If a tie still exists then the team's raw scores will be totaled. The team with the greatest total of raw points will be declared the winner.


References/Study Information

This list of references is not intended to be inclusive. Other sources may be utilized, and teachers
are encouraged to make use of the very best instructional materials available. The following list contains references that may prove helpful during event preparation.

  1. Updated Focusing on Agricultural Issues Instructional Materials located at:
  2. Purchased through The Core Catalog, National FFA Organization.
  3. Agricultural Issues: Ground Water Safety Video, The Core Catalog, National FFA Organization
  4. Document entitled: "Helpful hints to give your students the best opportunity to do well in the Agricultural Issues Forum Career Development Event at the State and National FFA Conventions can be found on the Agricultural Issues Instructional Materials website listed above and the National FFA Website at the following link:  National FFA Ag Issues Rules

Past Topics
2017 Wallace Ag Yay or Neigh?
2017 Sandy Creek Should There be Water Allocations in the Little Blue NRD Water District?
2017 The Career Academy Big Ag Business is it good or bad for your town and Nebraska?
2017 Sutherland The R-Powerline Good or Bad for the People of the Sandhills?
2017 Rock County Neonicotinoids:  Should They "Bee" Banned for Agricultural Use?
2016 The Career Academy Wind Turbines, Good or Bad for Lancaster County, NE?
2016 Sandy Creek Tasty Treat or Unhealthy Meat?
2015 Ashland-Greenwood Is Generation Y Capable of Taking Over the Family Farm?
2015 Rock County Is There a Future for Young Agriculturists in Rural Nebraska?
2015 Stanton Is Eminent Domain Fair for All of Fair for Some?
2015 Schuyler GMO's, Good or Bad?
2014 Rock County How has the Use of Antibiotics in Livestock Production Changed the Beef that We Eat?
2014 Aurora What should we do with the Mountain Lions in Nebraska?
2014 McCook "Obesity: Is Agriculture the Culprit"
2014 Schuyler Back yard Chickens, Good or Bad?
2013 Aurora Should We Save the Salt Creek Tiger Beetle?
2013 Fairbury The Uncertain Destiny of an American Legend Should Horse Slaughter be Allowed in the United States?
2013 McCook The Worth of Water
2013 Chambers Should Animals be Used for Entertainment?
2013 Pender Designer Dogs: New Breed or Mutt?
2013 Rock County How has Wheat Hybridization Changed the Food We Grow and Eat?
2013 Schuyler Water, "Who Needs It? Who Wants It?"
2013 Central Is the Keystone XL Pipeline Good for America?
2012 Aurora What is the Best Use of our Land: Cropland or Natural Grassland?
2012 Schuyler Central Fair Labor Standards Act Revisions are They Fair?
2012 Humphrey High-Fructose Corn Syrup "Healthy or Harmful? You Decide"
2012 Stanton Soil Conservation: Is No-Tilling the Way of the Future?
2012 McCook What are the Agricultural Issues on Foreign Oil?
2012 Fairbury Government Resources for New Farmers
2012 Ord XL Pipeline
2012 Mullen Fair Labor Standards Act-Good or Bad?
2011 Schuyler Keystone XL Pipeline: Good For Nebraska?
2011 Humphrey Keystone XL Pipeline-Which side of the pipeline do you stand on?
2011 Fairbury Should the Keystone Pipeline be constructed through Nebraska?
2011 Superior Should we Tax the Burp?
2011 Syracuse Serving 9 Billion-Can the World be Ready by 2050?
2011 Stanton Proposition B; Animal Rights vs Animal Welfare
2011 Aurora Should we or Should we Not Manage the Mountain Pine Beetle?
2011 Pender What is the Future of Animal Agriculture in Nebraska?
2010 Lexington Overpopulation of Whitetail Deer
2010 Pender Does Farmville Misportray Agriculture
2010 West Holt Support or Oppose Keystone Pipeline
2010 Fairbury Types of Livestock Identification
2009 Syracuse Dunbar Farming the Winds
2009 Sumner-Eddyville-Miller Bill Restricting Animal Agriculture
2009 Newman Grove Shell Creek Watershed Study
2009 Lexington American Burying Beetle
2009 Schuyler Global Warming: Are Cows the Problem
2009 Fairbury Should There be a Cow & Pig Tax
2009 Superior Blowing in the Wind
2009 Pender Bale or Graze Stover
2008 Syracuse Sunbar Are We Eating Dangerously
2008 Schuyler Ethanol
2008 Humphrey Antibiotics in Livestock Production
2008 Wilber-Clatonia Deer Population
2007 Hartington Genetically Altered Crops
2007 Schuyler Immigration
2007 Syracuse Dunbar Livestock Industry at a Crossroads
2007 Hayes Center Whose Water Is It
2007 Wilber-Clatonia Animal Rights Regulations
2006 Arapahoe Genetic Engineering
2006 Sumner-Eddyville-Miller B.S.E. Scare
2006 Pender Small Town vs. Big City
2006 Fairbury Horses: Are They Your Best Friend?
2006 Wilber-Clatonia Bioterorism
2006 Gothenburg Ethanol
2006 Syracuse Dunbar Corn-Food or Fuel
2006 Schuyler Premise ID