Agriculture Degrees Are Not Useless
It’s all the buzz in the social media ag circles. In Yahoo’s Education section, Terrance Loose wrote an article “College Majors That Are Useless“. He lists top 5 degrees that should be avoided. Three of which are in the agriculture industry. Mr. Loose could have done a little more digging for more accurate information before condemning a whole industry. Is a survey of “almost” 1000 employers going to give you complete enough facts about career opportunities across the country.
Mr. Loose brings up the school in Idaho that is cutting ag programs. My alma mater, Illinois State University, is adding programs and degrees to the agriculture department. The ag student enrollment is up with an increase for next year. ISU is hiring more professors (=more jobs) because of the influx of students. Their Dept. of Ag has continually had the highest job placement for graduates in the university.
Which brings me to the next point. The article states “don’t expect farms and ranches to be calling you”. If Mr. Loose would simply ask a farmer he would know that farms raise their own workers, send them to college and bring them back to the family farm. But farms and ranches do call crop specialists, large animal vets, elevator managers, seed dealers, custom applicators, machinery dealers, fertilizer plants, specialty food contractors, even USDA’s county managers, extension specialists, ect. All of which are highly likely to have degrees in agriculture.
Finally, the point “U.S. Department of Labor projects 64,000 fewer jobs in this field over the next seven years”. I would suspect that these jobs mentioned are low skilled jobs that don’t require a college degree. All I can compare this to is the ag climate here in Illinois where we have the 2000 lb wind-bag gorilla on our shoulder known as Chicago. (It’s not a monkey. It’s a big, stinky, resource sucking, arrogant, felonious gorilla.) One would think the behemoth would dominate the state. With 76,000 farms, Illinois biggest employer is the agriculture industry at 25%. 68% job growth in the state is ag related and 9% growth expected over the next 10 years (2008 stats).
So if the saying holds “How’s it play in Peoria, IL ?”, the ag industry for the country is likely to be similar.
Yahoo is doing a huge disservice to its readers and those looking for factual information on career decisions. It makes one doubt the accuracy of the rest of the articles in the “College Majors” series.
A career in agriculture is an excellent choice. It’s a noble profession to earn a degree that can take you anywhere in the world or back to the family farm. My kids are discussing which ag major they would like to study and what ag college to attend. I couldn’t be happier for them.