Did you read this article?
Terence Loose says that Agriculture, Animal Science, and Horticulture are among the top five most useless degrees you can get. And I would beg to differ.
Does this have something to do with the fact that I have an animal science degree and I also have an awesome job that I love and in which I excel? Maybe. Does this have something to do with the fact that I have lived my entire life in agriculture and I believe it has a very solid future? Definitely.
But most importantly, let’s look at the facts that Mr. Loose fails to consider.
1. In the middle of an economic recession, agriculture is booming.
While unemployment skyrockets, agricultural industries are doing well.
“For the record agriculture still is one of the few industries in which there is a positive balance of trade, with more exports than imports. For the 2012 fiscal year, outbound product values are $137 billion and inbound product values are $105 billion. In the USDA’s August Outlook for Agricultural Trade the main engines driving the positive trade balance include corn, livestock products, and horticultural products. Wheat exports are running into Black Sea competition, and general oilseed production has declined to the point there is insufficient quantities to remain a major export force.” Farmgateblog.com
And there’s also this. When the price of farmland goes up, it indicates that agriculture is doing well. CBS has some recent commentary on this.
I, for one, have never had to consider losing my job, being downsized, or not getting a cost of living raise for several years in a row like many of my counterparts in other industries. Agriculture is a very secure industry for employees.
2. When everything else is gone, people will still need to eat.
There are a few occupations that I think of as indisposable. As an example, I can’t imagine a world without teachers – I think our country and our society will always see a need to educate the population. I can’t imagine a world without medical professionals because people will always get sick. But even before either of those professions on the priority list are the person that grows our food and the people that sustain the industry behind him.
Can you envision a time when you will cease to be hungry? I didn’t think so.
3. The population continues to increase and with it, the need for agricultural technology grows greater.
If we are really to consider the question of feeding millions more people without destroying the earth, we must study the genetic makeup of our crops to increase production per plant. We must study the soils, making our plants more efficient to leave the soil composition intact. We must study the food animals we raise, growing them more efficiently and minimizing death and illness. We must study alternative crops, alternative best management practices, and alternative policies to maintain our food security.
And we need people to do that.
I can see that if you were a college graduate looking to work on the farm, jobs could be harder to find, as the number of farmers continues to dwindle. But I hardly agree that a degree in agriculture is useless as careers within the industry are secure and greatly needed if Americans and others around the world still want to eat.
I trust that they do.