Are farming jobs endangered? Hardly

By Brandie Piper

A recent article published by CareerCast.com added an interesting profession to its list of most-endangered jobs of 2015 – farmers. A more thorough look at farming dynamics and the numbers paints a different picture.

Farming is becoming more high-tech, which opens the doors for technology career opportunities within agriculture. Farmers are using data for everything from precisely determining which types of seeds will grow best in certain locations to knowing how much rainfall each acre of land has received, which means they’re able to irrigate crops more precisely. This data comes from agriculture professionals who are constantly working on ways to make farming more sustainable.

According to a 2015 analysis by Purdue University in conjunction with the USDA, there is a surplus of agriculture jobs for college graduates, with only 61 percent of positions being filled. Agriculture jobs can include plant breeding, sales, research, quality assurance, marketing, and engineering, and many of them are closely-tied to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

The CareerCast.com article said the number of farms have dropped 400,000 since 1982. According to the USDA’s 2012 Census of Agriculture, the number of farms in the United States actually dropped from 2.24 million in 1982 to 2.1 million, a decrease of about 5.87 percent. That’s a reduction of 131,673 farms over 30 years – a far cry from the 400,000 farms the article claims have disappeared.

Between 1982 and 1987, the number of U.S. farms dropped by 6.83 percent to 2,087,759. Between 1987 and 1992, the number of farms dropped by another 7.78 percent to 1,925,300. But since then, the number of U.S. farms has increased by 9.55 percent to 2,109,303, which means farmers are still in demand.

More people are also getting involved in agriculture, thanks in part to the rising interest of eating locally produced food. And more people are starting to grow their own vegetables in backyard gardens.

Farmers are the resource each of us depends on every day. They are the people who grow the food we eat, and with the global population expected to rise by another 2 billion by 2050, we are relying on them to grow the food that will feed the world.

Published Oct. 22, 2015 on Discover.Monsanto.com.