‘Useless’ degrees? People in ag disagree

Agriculture is the “most useless” degree available to college students, according to a piece published by Yahoo Education, a division of the search engine giant.

Degrees in animal science and horticulture are nearly as useless, according to the piece, which reaches its conclusions based on U.S.  Department of Labor projections for the number of farm managers, animal scientists, and farmers and ranchers in 2018.  The number of such jobs will drop over the next six years, so  students would be ill-advised to take classes that prepare them for those occupations, the piece says.

Balderdash, say ag educators and others involved in agriculture.

Their argument?  Yes, the number of farmers and farm managers is dropping. But modern agriculture consists of far more than farmers and farm managers; it employs a wide range of talented professionals who help farmers and farm managers raise crops and livestock. What’s more, agriculture is one of the few strong sectors in the  U.S. economy, and many business that work with farmers and ranchers need more qualified employees.

At the risk of sounding like a homer,  I’m taking agriculturalists’ side on this issue. I’ve done stories in the past few years on strong demand for farm elevator managers and high school ag education teachers, among other ag-related occupations, and everything I’ve learned tells me that ag offers some terrific employment opportunities.

No, a career in ag isn’t for everyone. But if you’re looking for a degree with job potential, agriculture may be something to consider. At the very least, don’t reject it out of hand because of an article that doesn’t take into account the diversity and potential of modern agriculture.

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