Editor's Note: An article with misleading information was recently written on Yahoo Education about education and career opportunities in agriculture-related programs. There has been a response from major college deans, and the following letter from the heads of major agronomic societies to inform the public about the critical need for graduates with agriculture-related degrees. They encourage sharing this letter with anyone you feel would find it interesting.
January 25, 2012
It's happened again.
Tests by a company of its brand-name orange juice turned up low levels of fungicide. But even as the report went on to indicate the amount was below federal safety concerns and didn't pose a health risk - alarm bells sounded around the world.
Issues related to the safety and security of our food supply tops the news on a regular basis. However, a recent article about the future of the business as posted on Yahoo-Education is the type of report doing more harm to agriculture than good: education.yahoo.net/articles/most_useless_degrees.htm?kid=1KWNU.
Separate statistical data from the United States Department of Labor and United States Department of Agriculture indicates an expected growth in most agriculture-related fields including inspectors, scientists and veterinarians. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects over the next five years, there will be a 5% increase in the need for graduates in these disciplines, but a 10% decline in the number of students choosing these important programs as their career path. This means a shortfall of qualified workers in the areas where we need them most—plants, food, animals and climate change or environmental analysts. But, there are also growing opportunities in industries linked to the business of agriculture; from trucking to coffee and beer brewing, dietetic concerns to animal welfare and pet foods.
As Yahoo's article stated, students majoring in agriculture-related disciplines are wasting their time and money. Yet, contrary to this, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also suggests an 8% increase in the need for qualified, well-educated Ag Managers; citing quickly advancing technological methods of farming across the U.S. and abroad, along with changes in regulations at all Government levels: www.bls.gov/oco/ocos046.htm.
The bottom line - agriculture isn't dead. In fact, no other industry feeds the world's population which, according to research, will hit 9 billion by 2050 (Feedstuffs, October 26, 2009). Instead, the need for graduates in agriculture, horticulture and animal science programs will be critical to finding ways of safely doubling food production in order to meet the demand of a growing population. The many facets offer a chance to make a difference. By helping agriculture thrive - we keep the rest of humanity alive.
President, Crop Science Society of America
President, American Society of Agronomy
President, Soil Science Society of America
Ellen Bergfeld, C.E.O.
Alliance of Crop, Soil and Environmental Science Societies