When 50 aspiring farmers gather at the Future Farmers of America's annual "New Century Farmer" conference next week, what they will learn goes way beyond crop rotation, tractor engines and how to get more milk out of old Bessie.

They will learn to cut costs using GPS technology and how to network with global marketing organizations; how to negotiate hefty bank-financing packages and how to keep huge $250,000 tractors running almost nonstop to grow more crops. It's a big leap from the plowing, planting, livestock-feeding and welding skills the FFA taught aspiring farmers 40 years ago.