Land grant university leaders and farmers will tell you that ag majors have their pick of jobs when they graduate, but that message has not reached the general public.
According to a national survey conducted on behalf of Land O’Lakes, only 6% percent of respondents say they have considered or would consider a job in agriculture. Those figures are better for millennials overall (9%) and worse for college grads (just 3%).
Yet nearly half (43%) of respondents say they would encourage young people to consider a job in the field.
Part of the problem may be a lack of knowledge about the demand for ag majors and the types of careers that are available, which can include data science, agronomy, plant research, animal health and more
"People still think you have to wear boots and overalls to work in ag," said Lydia Botham, executive director, Land O'Lakes Foundation. "But modern agriculture has evolved to become one of the most vital and technologically advanced fields there is today. And the career choices are as dynamic as the industry itself – from seed geneticists and soil conservationists to supply chain analysts and economists."
So are the pay scales. But just fewer than half (48%) of respondents said they were “unsure” about whether or not an ag career paid well. The rest were almost evenly split on the question, with 24% saying that yes, ag careers paid well, and 28% saying no, ag jobs did not pay well.
Botham said the results indicate that ag needs to invest more time and effort in promoting the job opportunities available and recruiting talented students to the industry.
"Our priorities are clear. We must focus on attracting the next generation of ag workers to the highly skilled, well-paid career opportunities,” she said. “Failing to do so may lead to severe consequences."