Are YOU Promoting Ag?
Brent Vorpagel, Feed Department Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org (507) 533-4222
I am a firm believer that there is no better industry to work in than agriculture and no better way to raise a family than in rural, agricultural based communities. Over the years I have had the opportunity to interact with many young adults in agriculture and I have to say they never cease to impress me. Their knowledge, passion, work ethic, and manners are top-notch. As I look forward I have a few concerns about where our future producers and Ag industry professionals are going to come from. I find myself asking; are we encouraging students to pursue agriculture as a career? Do young people know how many career opportunities are in agriculture? I recently read that only 3% of college grads and 9% of millennials surveyed have or would consider an Ag Career. USDA job reports underscore these findings stating that more than 20,000 agriculture jobs go unfilled each year. (*)
All too often I hear from young people who are in the process of making college or career decisions tell me that someone close to them has told them to not pursue a career in agriculture. When I ask them “why” they are told to stay clear of agriculture 100% respond with “it is too much work” and/or “not enough pay.” While I certainly agree that Ag industry workers are some of the hardest working people on the earth and definitely some of the most underpaid, I think we all need to reconsider this thought process. According to one survey, 76% of respondents do not think or are not sure if a career in Ag pays well. This misperception is prevalent across US geographies (85% in the Northeast, 82% in the West, and 71% in the Midwest & South).
Some people still think you have to wear boots and overalls to work in Ag. As parents we shouldn’t be discouraging our kids to really take a look at Agriculture! We should be proud to teach them the same work ethic we were taught. Yes it is hard work, but that hard work will pay off down the road. I can tell you from countless experiences in my career that hard workers will advance faster than their average counterparts. I take note when I get applications from people with a background in agriculture because typically they are going to be hard workers and valuable employees. Don’t be afraid to teach your kids a sound hard work ethic so they can teach their kids that same hard work ethic.
I continue to notice that young people and even those professionals involved with educating our future generations, don’t have a good understanding of the endless possibilities out there for someone in Agriculture right now. We have less and less young people growing up in agriculture and even less making the choice to pursue an education or a career in Ag. This is a concerning trend given the growing world population. There is a very real need for good hard working employees throughout agriculture. For example we offer many opportunities for part time employment, college internships, apprenticeship programs, and full time careers. These positions require a wide variety of qualifications. Some require a college education, some require tech school education and many require no education at all. The only thing these positions all require is the willingness to work hard. Modern agriculture has evolved to become one of the most vital and technologically advanced fields there is today. Career choices are as dynamic as the industry itself-from animal nutritionists to seed geneticists to soil conservationists to supply chain analysts and economists.
As we move thru the months of May and June we are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to honor two great industries back-to-back and kick off a summer of fun activities that are tied to the Beef and Dairy sectors. As I wrap up I would like to share a special Thank You to all of the producers and businesses that are directly tied to offering wholesome healthy food options grown and produced right here in our own communities in SE MN. All of us at All American Co-op Progressive Ag Center send out a well-deserved salute for the hard work that each of you do. Thank you for your business and your dedication to the future of agriculture. Happy May Beef Month and June Dairy Month!
(*statistics sourced thru Land O Lakes)