Jun 10, 2013

Editorial: Cultivate Careers in Agribusiness

Excerpted from Wisconsin State Journal

“I am going to major in agriculture.”

If you heard that comment at a high school graduation party 10 years ago, you would probably have reacted with stunned silence or a quizzical look.

But if you react that way this high school graduation season, you are behind the times. Careers in agribusiness have become a hot topic with growing appeal to young people.

That’s a trend Wisconsin should encourage. Bringing more bright young minds into agriculture bodes well for tapping the rich resources of America’s Dairyland to create jobs and income.

A prime example of the blooming interest in agricultural careers is this week’s annual convention of the Wisconsin FFA, formerly known as the Future Farmers of America. The FFA convention begins today in Madison with membership in Wisconsin at a 28-year high, totaling 19,000 students.

The trend is also evident at UW-Madison. Enrollment in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is up 33 percent in the past decade.

The number of full-time farmers is still declining. But for some students farming may be more attractive than ever, with incomes and challenges both up dramatically.

Even more students are recognizing the expanding opportunities in off-the-farm agribusiness. Genetic engineering, computer technology, an energy revolution, value-added product innovations, health and environmental concerns – all are transforming agriculture and opening career paths.

Today’s agriculture needs brainpower. Young people are recognizing the opportunities. Wisconsin should recognize its stake in supporting agricultural education through FFA, UW-Madison and other institutions.

Read the full article.

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