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Yahoo Declares Agriculture as a Career in Crisis, but is it Really?

Defining Agriculture Careers

by Denise Faguy, Farms.com

This past week Yahoo’s education department released another article “5 Careers That Are In Crisis”.  Those who work in the Agriculture Industry may have been shocked to learn that the number one career facing extinction, according to the article is ‘Farmer, Rancher and other Agricultural Manager.’  Those who work in agriculture know that there are a number of shortages for different types of skilled workers?  So, how can these two realities co-exist?

The statistics are correct, traditional farmer and rancher jobs will decline by 19% between 2012 and 2022.  Very few people in the agricultural industry would argue that the small mom and pop ‘farmer’ career is declining, but does that one career define the entire agriculture industry? 

According to the US Department of Labor, it does.  The Department of Labor defines agriculture solely as on farm work.  Not taking into account the allied careers that support the work of the farmer.  This includes the scientist who works inside not only a typical laboratory with microscopes and beakers, but also in a field laboratory with soil, water and farm equipment, to create the seed of tomorrow.  The seed that will help the farmer produce three times the crop that he’s producing today, with fewer resources.  The career of agricultural sales, the career that involves visiting the farmer to supply him or her with the inputs and technology that will help their livestock produce a higher quality, better tasting protein at a safe and efficient rate.  The career of human resources and recruiting, the career of convincing people that agriculture is not just the farmer; agriculture includes hundreds of careers that support the farmer and those careers are rewarding, lucrative careers that need more people pursing them! 

This list could go on and on defining careers in information technology, marketing, education and government, and still only scratch the surface.  But they all have one thing in a common-- they all revolve around the industry of agriculture! 

In 2013, AgCareers.com, the leading online job board for the agriculture, food, natural resources and biotechnology industry had 12,500 more jobs posted than in the year before, equating to more than 56,000 openings in one year alone, 4,600 openings each month!  “So there are clearly opportunities for people who would like to work in agriculture,” says Ashley Collins, Education/Marketing Manager for AgCareers.com.  Indeed, she reports that every year companies who post on the AgCareers.com site report challenges filling the skilled positions they need.

According to AgCareers.com, the average starting salary for a new graduate with a four year degree in agriculture is $41,000.  “There was an 82% increase in the number of internship opportunities advertised on AgCareers.com this year,” continues Collins.  “That does not sound like a career field in crisis to me. “

Collins encourages people in the agriculture industry to talk more about their employment to those who may not have a 21st century view of agriculture.  “If you work in agriculture,” she says “talk about your career, expose your family and friends to what you do and how it relates back to the production of food, fuel and fiber our planet survives on.  The agricultural industry is an exciting and growing industry to be part of, we know that because we read about and experience the scientific advancements that happen daily to make our jobs more efficient, but the general public does not.”
 

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