Hearne: How the FFA Screwed KC & We Got Stuck w/ R. Crosby Kemper Jr.’s AFA

It’s like this; once upon a time the annual National FFA gangbang was one of KC’;s most prized possessions…

From it’s inception, each October for 70 years, thousands of blue-jacketed farm kids clod-hopped their way here, dropping tons of dough while behaving well. They were colorful, plentiful, magical even. That is, until 1998 when Louisville stole ’em – walked off with our tourism crown jewel – and they’ve been gone ever since.

KC politicos vowed to get ’em back, but nearly a generation has passed since the 37,000-strong blue-jacketed farm kids last roamed the Plaza and Downtown.

Just the sight of ’em – let alone the economic impact – was as much a rite of fall here as Halloween or Thanksgiving.

Early on they went by Future Farmers of America. Later it was modernized and reduced to FFA.

So pissed was UMB banker R. Crosby Kemper Jr. when we lost the FFA,  he hatched a plan to screw them over by starting his own kid farmer not-for-profit. Kemper called it the Agriculture Future of America or the AFA. But instead of flooding KC’s streets with bright blue jackets, Kemper opted for earth-friendly green.

Just one problem, things never really panned out..

After bumping into the FFA  and AFA last week in Houston, I decided to check em both out. How were the competing organizations faring and was the AFA even still alive?

Darned if it wasn’t. Matter of fact, it had just held its annual blowout here the week before.

Anybody see any sign of em – the green jackets – I sure didn’t?

Now let’s cut to the chase; a call to the AFA headquarters here revealed that not several thousand but rather only "several hundred" Green Jackets made it to KC this month. Like 500, versus the 37,000 FFA kids we lost in 1998.

Which has grown into nearly 55,000-strong that gathered last month in Indy.

In other words, the AFA attracted was less than 1 percent of the attendees the FFA brought to Indy.

Now the tale of the tape…

In the AFA’s 2009 tax filing, it took in $1,952,787. Peanuts compared to the FFA’s $12,327,673.

More significantly, the FFA handed out 2,102 scholarships on top of more than 2,000 grants and awards. Compared to the AFA’s 113 scholarships and 159 "internships" (isn’t that where you work for free?).

There was one area that Kemper’s AFA exceeded the FFA and that’s in executive compensation. The FFA’s top dog took down $186,000 and change, compared to AFA honcho K.Russell Weathers $213,464.

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. After 70 years, KC lost it’s biggest, all-time convention, vowed to get it back, failed, then out of spite launched a competing organization that draws but a fraction of what the FFA does.

Now remind me why it is that we want to tear down Kemper Arena and blow millions more on some new cow palace? For the freaking American Royal BBQ?

How about we wait until the Royal or city snags a commit from the FFA to return first?

This entry was posted in Hearne_Christopher and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Hearne: How the FFA Screwed KC & We Got Stuck w/ R. Crosby Kemper Jr.’s AFA

  1. harley says:

    KC loses most of its conventions
    until the power and light there was nothing for conventioneers to do. Downtown was a shamble. When the FFA kids came here
    they wandered the streets because there was nothing for them to do here. along comes other cities (like indy) and they offer
    the kids entire areas of entertainment and fun things for them to do. KC took these kids for granted. Just like they did other
    organizations and other conventions. Still downtown lacks the hotel space for a major convention and they get left out.
    The power and light was to take care of that but it’s become just a huge party for 21-35 year olds. There’s nothing here
    to attract those big shows…now they are going to other cities that cater to their needs.
    Again it goes back to kc’s poor strategic decision years ago to cast asie their ag roots. Had kc stuck to what they knew best
    and what they did best this city would have become the ag capital of the world. INSTEAD they wnet with a more
    cosmopolitan upscale image and lost all those ag companies and conventions.
    Too bad. However your article is just weak. Its just info from a website that you went to. How about if you talked with
    those in the city and asked them why we lost the ffa…go to kemper and question him. Do some real reporting hearne
    and made this a strong story instead of a cut and paste story that really lacks any depth.
    We can find the websites ourselves…but good journalistic reporting could have made this an interesting article.
    Instead its just the mundane…boring…story without any depth or actual work on your part.
    Unfortunately thats why your numbers are dropping. Hall continues to outpace you with quality insight and
    intelligent comments without the threats of violence your writers portray.
    Maybe try harder next time. I know you can do better.

  2. smartman says:

    Harley Has A Good Point
    And for once it’s not on the top of his head.

    KCMO takes EVERYTHING for granted. FFA, schools, the whole build it and they will come mentality of SC and P&L. When it comes to planning anything long term or strategic we have the attention span of a three year old.

    Unfortunately the same old type of d-bag politicians and civic leaders keep emerging, all loaded up with touchy feely ideas that always, ALWAYS fail in the long run. It’s like KCMO got a bad case of the clap in the 80’s, it’s rotted our once proud penis away and now it’s going for the brain.

  3. Gerald Bostock says:

    stay at home
    who misses going to the ffa convention when you can watch it in HD on RFD-TV? You can sit in your man cave and not even have to put on your blue jacket.

  4. Robertoe says:

    1 key lament
    Based on her recent discourse, I’m sure no one in KC misses the annual arrival of all these cute young bumkin blue jacketed guys than Mermaid! 😉

  5. Hearne Christopher says:

    Aye-aye, Mr. Know It All, sir.

    This was a perspective piece based on years of following the news on the subject, examining both organization’s tax returns and talking to the AFA. Sure, you coulda done the footwork maybe, then woven it together and applied your perspective. Anybody coulda. But they didn’t and nor did the Star.

    Could there be more? There can always be more. Kemper doesn’t do interviews and at this stage of the game, his power broker ship has sailed.There’s no reporting to be done on why we lost the FFA, that was done at the time. You more-or-less regurgitated it in a couple sentences; not enough hotel rooms and not enough to do. Add in maybe missteps by KC mayor Cleaver at the time.

  6. Hearne Christopher says:

    Again, the points were made at the time; not enuff hotel rooms and not enuff to do for the kids.

    Look at the FFA now. They were tight as hell at 37,000 kids and now they’re up to 55,000. And how many hotel rooms have we added?

    I seem to recall at the time that Cleaver was criticised for being asleep at the wheel on this one. Losing the FFA to Louisville of all the cities. Indy has had it now for several years but in 2013 it’s going to alternate between the two.

    Why isn’t KC getting in on the action is one question?

  7. Hearne Christopher says:

    The kids are the ones who miss going. Nobody here outside FFA members attended. The kids wanna get the heck outta their small towns and away from their parents and do the Holden Caufield thing.

  8. smartman says:

    Homos on the Range
    When life gives you lemons sweetie you gotta make lemon merengue pie.

    One thing KCMO does well is GAY. On a per capita basis we have one of the largest gay populations in America.

    Change the name to Friendly Fags of America, swap the blue jackets for pink and make it a midwestern version of FREAKNIK and the WHITE PARTY.

    The vast majority of gays are intelligent and/or educated, creative, hardworking and entrepreneurial. Exactly the kind of people that start small businesses and HIRE people. Forget about the Garmin District let’s get some homo’s sewing and restore the Garment District.

    Hasta la vista homogenized KCMO. HELLO HOMO KCMO

  9. Gerald Bostock says:

    Humor deficient
    you’re a little show on the uptake, dude. Unless you were actually watching the FFA proceedings on Tv…then I apologize for questioning your 4H cred.

  10. Hearne Christopher says:

    Well, no doubt I am a little slow, so I’ll give you that!

  11. BarKeeper says:

    It’s the Hotels, stupid
    I worked downtown during the last time they were in KC. Some of these folks could only get rooms as far away as Warrensburg and drive in for the convention activities every morning.

    They plainly said they wouldn’t be back and I’m sure the city fathers were well aware of it. That’s the typical way a hick town takes care of people who come to spray their money around. Nothing has changed, so why expect any change?

    They’ll bumble the All-Star game, count on it.

Comments are closed.