Monday, December 14, 2015

Big Jobs in Big Ag

I recently ran across an article on Forbes by Jeffrey Dorfman, Want a Job? Study Food and Agriculture. This is one of the first articles I have ever read in a popular media outlet that gets ag right! Usually people think of agriculture as a narrow field, comprised mostly of on farm labor. But its the single largest employing sector! Just think McDonalds and Wal-mart. Yes those burger flipping and cashier jobs count. If the industry is not paying attention to what happens at the checkout counter, or behind it in the kitchen, its in trouble  (Chipotle is learning that lesson now) . When it comes to the ag industry, there is a lot more here than meets the eye.

Some highlights:

"these jobs are not all in direct production agriculture (that is, farming), which accounts for only 15% of these jobs. The other 85% are in the broader food and fiber industry. In fact, 50% of these jobs are in business and management. For example, food processors such as Campbell’s Soup or Tyson Food need people to manage their production facilities, marketing campaigns, and finances. Twelve percent of the jobs are in agricultural education, communication or government agencies that regulation and support the food and fiber industries. As agriculture becomes more global, there are good jobs available for students with an interest in international finance and policy and also for those who can speak a foreign language."

"The remaining 27% of these agricultural jobs are in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). These jobs require strong scientific, quantitative, and technical training and employers are also looking for familiarity with agricultural and food systems. For example, a large meat or poultry processing company will likely prefer a geneticist who is an animal or poultry science major with genetics training. A food processing company looking for a food safety specialist will choose a food science major over a microbiologist with no specific training in food safety."

I would think some of these STEM related fields would include jobs related to Big Data. 

See also-why study agricultural and applied economics.

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