Songs of the New Farmers of America (08/24/2018)

When was the last time you sang a song at an FFA meeting? If you are like me – never. However, if you had been a member of the New Farmers of America (NFA), there is a good possibility that you sang a number of songs at NFA meetings. When I am around former NFA members of my age, they can sing NFA songs from memory.

In the NFA Guide (1946 and 1962 versions) one of the optional chapter officers is the “Song and Cheer Leader”. A conductor’s baton is the symbol of that office. Two duties of the office are listed:

  • See that members are acquainted with appropriate songs and yells.
  • Be responsible for all music used by the chapter.

But the NFA Guide doesn’t stop there. The words to a number of NFA songs are included in the Guide. The 1946 Guide lists the following songs: [If you want to hear or download the songs, just click on the links. The sound quality is not that great since the original sound file was in the .au format and has been converted to mp3]

The 1962 Guide includes a newer song written in 1956 – NFA Boys are We (good quality)

It is interesting comparing the 1946 and 1962 versions of the song “Give Me That Old NFA Spirit” The 1946 version had four stanzas, one of which allowed you to fill in the name of a person. The 1962 version dropped that stanza. Also, the last stanza is different.

From the 1946 NFA Guide
From the 1962 NFA Guide

One of the most popular competitive events in the NFA was the quartet contest. Quartet competition was held at all levels of the organization. In 1959, the national winning quartet was from South Carolina. At the 30th national convention (1964), the winning quartet was from Georgia.

The 1964 National Winning Quartet from Georgia

The Chadbourn (NC) NFA Quartet sang “King Jesus is Listening” and “Remember Now Thy Creator” in 1950-51. Many of the songs sung by NFA quartets were spiritual songs.  The quality of these recordings is not that great.

On December 23, 2005 NPR (National Public Radio) had a great program about the NFA and the quartet contest. It was titled “Remembering the Lost Tradition of Quartet Contests” I highly recommend you listen to it; the quality is great. You will learn more about the quartet contest but you will also learn more about the NFA.

1951 Florida FFA Quartet Winner

Some southern states mimicked the NFA and had a quartet competition. The photo to the right is the 1951 Lakeview, Florida State Champion Quartet. At one time North Carolina FFA had a quartet competition (but no longer does). I think Alabama might still have such an event; at least they have the contest rules online. There could be other states who have or had FFA quartet competitive events.

Teaching Ideas:

  1. When you teach about important dates in the FFA, you could do more than just mention that the FFA and NFA merged in 1965. You could play some NFA songs. In the merger, all NFA identify was lost. We can at least partially rectify that by introducing some NFA songs to our students.
  2. If the NFA existed today, would the music take on a Rap-like quality or would it still be the traditional quartet? Perhaps we could have students develop a new NFA song in remembrance of the NFA.
  3. There are a number of folks who believe FFA competitive events should be tied to the curriculum. If you don’t teach something (such as poultry), should your FFA members be participating in poultry related competitive events? Following this line of thinking, should we have a quartet contest? This would be a good topic for a discussion or debate.

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