SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — The Illinois Department of Agriculture announced on Tuesday that all Future Farmers of America (FFA) dues for students taking agriculture classes will be covered starting this fall.

The $550,000 appropriation is spearheaded by State Senator Doris Turner.

“In Illinois, we’re making it so students can choose their extracurriculars based on what interests them the most, not what they can afford,” Governor JB Pritzker said in a news release. “It’s been a priority of mine to make agricultural education more accessible and widely recognized throughout my administration.”

The elimination of dues makes Illinois an FFA affiliation membership state, which ensures that every student enrolled in agricultural education will be a FFA member.

“In 2022, nearly 37,000 students across the state were enrolled in ag classes, but the state’s FFA membership was 23,000 members,” IDOA Director Jerry Costello said in a news release. “By removing the cost barrier, this opens up the doors for thousands more students to benefit from what FFA provides, which goes well beyond what can be taught in the classroom.”