We all need agriculture. Yes, each and every one of us needs agriculture every day.
When you think about it, those engaged in agriculture and agribusiness are responsible for growing and producing what each person needs for daily living: food, clothing and shelter. In addition, the quality of golf courses and real turf for sports like soccer and football also should be attributed to agriculture. It’s only fitting that the theme for the 45th national Ag Day, which is “Agriculture: Food for Life.”
Growing up in the Midwest, our minds don’t readily think of those California farmers who plant “row crops” of strawberries and lettuce. We don’t necessarily think of those who grow the avocados, so we can enjoy fresh guacamole. We might not even think of those who are raising shrimp, catfish or salmon. Let’s hope we think of the farmers who raise corn, soybean and forage crops, as well as raise beef, pork and chicken!
While the total number of full-time farmers has declined over time, a growing number of people are pursuing agriculture careers. In fact, 11% of total employment in America is related to agriculture and food sectors.
“People are starting to discover this is a pretty good industry to be in. They realize that this sector isn’t our traditional what we joke ‘cows, plows and sows’ industry anymore. It’s incredibly diverse,” said Mike Gaul, career services director, Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (ISU CALS) in CNBC story.
Many of the positions that companies like Monsanto need to fill now didn’t even exist just five years ago. An average of nearly 60,000 high-skilled ag and related job openings are expected annually in the United States through the year 2020. Demand is greatest for science-related fields, such as plant scientists, water-resource scientists, veterinarians, precision ag specialists and pest control specialists.
Nearly 1/3 of the professional employment opportunities in the near future will be in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). It’s only fitting that STEM education initiatives are underway at both the state and federal levels as the need is great for a skilled workforce.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has long been a proponent of STEM programs. In 2011, an Iowa bill was signed into law to encourage every Iowa elementary, middle and high school to offer high-quality computer science instruction by July 1, 2019. Iowa’s legislation establishes a computer science professional development incentive fund to prepare more teachers to teach computer science.
Farmers have real-time seed and soil information at their fingertips from the comfort of their air-conditioned or heated cabs. Sensors tell livestock producers that their animals are sick even before symptoms are visible.