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Ag Students Are in Demand

When you think of agricultural students, you probably think farmers, possibly farmers from a more sepia-toned age. But today's agribusinesses go beyond traditional farm jobs, and have more job openings than applicants to fill them.

soil 

(Photo Credit: NRCS Soil Health/Flickr)

"We certainly have a shortfall, no doubt about it," says Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the Agriculture Department’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, in an interview with the DesMoines Register. Agriculture student enrollment is on the rise, Ramaswamy says, but "that's not been enough to keep up with the demand that we've got in the workforce."

Why are ag students so popular all of a sudden? In part, it's because agriculture is a growth industry. A study funded by The National Institute of Food and Agriculture predicted that an estimated 54,000 jobs would be created in food, agriculture, and renewable resources by the year 2015.

Then there's the fact that the industry has long suffered from an image problem. Today's agriculture businesses involve everything from robotics to animal genetics and employ workers with titles as diverse as agronomist, financial controller, and farm manager. Although salaries vary widely depending on title, years of experience, education level, and location, some skilled jobs in this sector pay six figures.

To continue to grow, the industry needs to attract top talent -- and persuade them that jobs in agriculture aren't just for people who grew up on farms. The Register reports that as a result, many companies are increasing salaries and working with schools to create internship programs to train the next generation of workers.

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