Agriculture is a loaded industry. There are so many areas of expertise that are covered by one general term. What is great about that is the fact that there is room for so many people to work in agriculture.
Agriculture encompasses jobs in computer science, engineering, physics, human resources, marketing, biology, pharmaceuticals, and so many more. This is really important for young people — no matter whether they are in FFA, 4-H, or neither organization — to think about when they are deciding where their passions will take them in life.
For those interested in government, ag policy is an area of high importance. Farmers need policymakers to have their best interest in mind when it comes to the economy. In rural towns, you may find that many town boards are composed mainly of farmers, as changes in the community can have big impacts on land usage in the area. Sometimes even the smallest of changes have big impacts on how farmers do their job.
Computer science is an often overlooked tier of agriculture. Almost all farms utilize technology in some way, shape, or form. Some farms utilize so much technology that they hire people with computer science degrees full time on the farm.
Dairy and beef producers take part in a checkoff program, where with each hundredweight of milk or each head of cattle sold a small portion of the profit is put back into the “behind the scenes” parts of the industry.
Dairy farmers pay 15 cents per hundredweight of milk produced to the dairy checkoff program. That money goes to pay dairy marketers, youth programs, and product development. Likewise beef producers pay $1 into the beef checkoff program for each head of livestock sold.
Engineering, much like computer science, is an important yet overlooked part of agriculture. Engineers who are designing tractor implements, barns, and robots meant to be put into use need to understand the real implications of their innovation. Engineers who understand animal behavior are very important in agriculture, as there are many things on the farm that need to be built with the livestock in mind.
As farms get larger, professionals in human resources are needed more and more. Surly we all have heard about the overtime dilemma on farms, this has caused a greater need for human resources professionals. Human resource professionals also provide a better work environment by providing support to workers.
Most every farm has a relationship with the bank. Farm Credit is perhaps the most notable example of a bank made for farmers. New tractors and implements can cost upwards of a quarter million dollars. Farm operators need to have financial experts who understand why a farm may need to borrow huge sums of money. Many community banks also have ag lenders in their branch to serve farmers in their area.
Agriculture is a large industry, and it has a lot of different people within it. This diversity is part of the beauty of agriculture. So many people who are experts in different things get to come together to achieve one common goal: feeding the world.
For the young FFA members, 4-H’ers, and farmers, there are so many places for you to go. Whether you want to follow directly in the family footsteps by taking over an operation, or take a new path, agriculture is able to welcome you in some facet. Most any profession can be linked back to agriculture in some way. Colleges and trade schools are in a great need of students who are passionate about agriculture.
No matter which path you take, you can make your voice heard in agriculture.
Elizabeth Maslyn is a Cornell University student pursuing a career in the dairy industry. Her passion for agriculture has driven her desire to learn more, and let the voices of our farmers be heard.