Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ag Graduates in High Demand

Submitted by Cate Sprout, Staffing Manager, Human Resources, CHS Inc.

Contrary to what you may have recently read in the press, there is a big demand in the workforce for college graduates with agricultural degrees.

We see it every day as we work to recruit the best and brightest new graduates for the wide range of positions we have at CHS. We regularly hire ag grads with degrees in agronomy, plant science, business, ag economics, marketing, animal science and a wide array of related fields.

Our company, along with the agricultural industry, is growing. That growth mirrors Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, which project jobs for agricultural and food science majors will grow by 16 percent between 2008 and 2018. That’s faster than the average for all occupations.

But it won’t be just industry growth driving the future demand for ag grads. Baby boomers will start to retire in the next few years. With nearly half of all ag workers now 55 years old or older, there will be a growing number of agricultural-related positions to fill in the coming decade.

CHS annually recruits for full-time positions and internships at 24 universities—both two- and four-year institutions—throughout our trade territory. For those graduates without much hands-on experience, we also hire trainees for 12- to 18-month programs in precision agricultural technologies, crop nutrient sales, grain terminal management, grain merchandising, cooperative management, and credit and finance.

For anyone with an interest in agriculture and a willingness to learn, the future looks very bright.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Little Tech with Your Corn, Soybeans?

Submitted by Willie Vogt, Editorial Director, Farm Progress

It takes a lot of work to feed the 7 billion people who inhabit our planet today. As we aim toward 9 billion by 2050 (or sooner), we have a lot of work ahead of us. Yet, I'm optimistic about the power of the American farmer to meet not only a domestic need for nutritious food consumers demand, but to have the product that the rest of the world needs for its diet.

Why so optimistic? Well, I've been covering farm technology for more than 25 years. In that time, I've seen the miracle merging of computer technology and farm equipment in ways I don't think we would have anticipated in the 1970s. The hands-free operation we find so common today was but an idea in someone's head back in the 1980s, yet today farmers are adding auto-steering tools and other devices to new and used equipment as fast as they can get them.

It's all about the "hardware" of agriculture: the steel and electronics you can touch and put to work every day. And that's changing fast, too. Beyond those auto-steering computers, you'll find computer-controlled diesel engines that sip less fuel and release fewer emissions than ever before, making them more productive on every acre of land we farm.

Then there's the "software" of agriculture: the top-quality genetics of the seed farmer's plant; the improved fertilizer technologies that keep needed nutrients where they belong through the growing season and enhanced crop protection products farmers rely on. Add in the productivity enhancements of biotechnology and improved agronomics, and farmers will have the ability to double corn yields by 2030. That's a stunning fact in 2012, when the average corn yield is about 145 bushels per acre.

Of course there's no sitting back and relaxing in celebration of a job well done. There's roll-up-your-sleeves work to be done as hungry mouths start making demands. During the Ag Day celebrations, we should keep one thing in mind: all that technology makes a difference, but it's still being deployed by the American farmer. Please accept this simple pat on the back.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Delicious Dining on the Farm

Submitted by Barry Nelson, Manager, Media Relations, John Deere

Last summer, I attended a special dining event that featured a well-known chef in the Kansas City area. The event was held at a small farm North of Kansas City and everything served was from a local vendor or farm. The beer and wine, the lamb, vegetables, fruit, bread and pastry were all from local producers. 

We had a group of 32 people, all seated together, eating family style. As each part of the meal was served, the chef explained the choice of food, where it was produced, and why the appropriate wine or beverage was selected for that particular food. 

This type of dining experience has become very popular throughout the United States. To me, this was a celebration of agriculture at its most basic element. We all enjoyed the dining experience and we learned much about the food we were eating and the hard work that went into bringing it to this special event.

Also—to give credit to the chef and manager of this group meal—they did not criticize large production agriculture, but simply explained the benefits of the food they selected for dinner and promoted the farmers that produced this food, locally.

Everyone who attended this special dining event was from Kansas City, not from a farm, and had no farming background. These folks were treated to a great dinner and, through the dining experience, learned about how to raise the food presented at the table. Everyone truly appreciated what it took to bring a great tasting meal to them that evening. 

As we continue to promote agriculture and the importance of feeding the world, we need to be inclusive of all types of agriculture. Some of these local dining experiences provide a wonderful connection to urban folks who would never be exposed to the challenges of bringing food to the table (beyond shopping at a local grocery store or driving through a fast food restaurant). These experiences are very positive, personal and enjoyable; and help remind people that farmers provide safe, nutritious, and healthy food locally … and to the world.

This particular venue also allowed me to discuss the challenges of production farming, the special equipment needed and the issue of feeding a growing world population. Food was central to the conversation and brought many people with different backgrounds and experiences together for a memorable event. Agriculture is for everyone and such events as these can help support what our farmers and ranchers do every day! Bon Appetit!