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Agriculture needs you! It’s a vast industry of opportunity beyond the farm field


The agriculture industry is the largest provider of jobs all around the world, as well as being one of the most diverse, and yet many still think of it only as working in a farm field.

I travel all over, telling the stories about agriculture, busting myths and meeting GREAT people throughout the industry doing awesome things — yet fewer younger people today are choosing to enter the industry. I think this is an image issue because so many are far removed directly from where their food comes from!

I want you all to know that agriculture isn’t only animals, crops, tractors, and the big red barn found in a child’s toy set: It’s highly trained professionals, complex science, technology, innovation, business, and so much more. We all found out how important our agricultural/food sector was during COVID when the whole industry had to pivot on a dime to a different type of consumption model — as well as finding out how vulnerable it could be without enough skilled workers in the food system.

Agriculture is an exciting industry, and I want to share why more young professionals should consider one of the diverse career opportunities in it! Throughout my travels I visit with people of all walks of life, including farmers, agribusiness professionals, scientists, innovators, and technology folks. The one thing sticks out is that most people in all parts of the agriculture industry love what they do and how they make an impact on our food system, protecting the environment or creating new technological advances.

Image by MOLPIX, Shutterstock

This is why I feel it’s crucial to improve the image of agriculture and farming nationally so that more young people think of it as a viable career option. This includes not just educating young people, but also transforming the mindset of everyone, including those already in the industry. There is misleading rhetoric across a variety of media, and we often focus on agriculture through a subsistence-based lens, yet it’s essential to encourage people to look at it through a business and entrepreneurial lens. By changing the image of agriculture from tedious, unrewarding and labor-intensive work to innovative and transformative work, I think young professionals will start to change their mindsets about it, too!

Landing a job in agriculture can be an extremely lucrative career choice, and there are new opportunities emerging all the time! If you are looking for a new path that is innovative and profitable, you should consider the field of agriculture. All of the supporting roles — such as in technology, agribusiness, research and development, natural resources, animal agriculture, agricultural engineering, and agricultural communications — are plentiful. Ag needs YOU. Less than 2 percent of the U.S. population works directly in agricultural production as a farmer or rancher feeding us all, but it takes a village of other professionals to make the agriculture industry work!

According to the research conducted by Purdue University on the Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in Food, Agriculture, Renewable Natural Resources and the Environment report, employment opportunities remain strong for new college graduates with interest and expertise in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and the environment. They report an average of approximately 59,400 openings annually and that the large bulk of new college graduates will be in Management and Business (approx. 24,700 positions or 42 percent of anticipated openings) and in Science and Engineering (approx. 18,400 positions or 31 percent of anticipated openings).

Graphic from the report on Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in Food, Agriculture, Renewable Natural Resources and the Environment — United States, 2020-2025

I advocate for accurate ag information sharing and the hard-working professionals that make the industry what it is today. We should all want to see it remain a strong global industry with a growing pipeline of innovative professionals, so if you know someone looking for a new opportunity, or a young person looking for an internship or college career path, maybe take a moment to encourage them to consider agriculture.

Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is a farmer, public speaker and writer who has worked for years with row crops, beef cattle, and sheep. She believes education is key in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.

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