2019 Outlook for Agriculture Industry in the U.S.

There have been rumors circulating about the struggles of the agricultural industry in the past few years. Some reports claim the agricultural industry is suffering while others claim that it is on the rise.

With altered yearly temperatures alongside raging droughts or surprise flash-freezes, farming has been hit with difficulties that has led to the contradicting predictions. In 2018, farmers experienced a rough year as the USDA reported net farm income drops.

However, there are currently over 125,000 jobs available if you are interested in a career in the agricultural industry. Types of careers like sales and retail are at the top of the list on sites listing job postings while categories named equipment, manufacturing, and technical are offering the highest number of positions. Agriculture is becoming more than just crop production. In the last few years the industry has rapidly expanded to include a variety of different career paths. Below are some of the trends predicting what the year of 2019 will hold for agriculture.

Hiring Trends

If you are looking to make a career in the agricultural industry, knowing the demographics of the candidate pool is helpful. Research conducted in 2017 revealed 68 percent of applicants possessed a bachelor’s degree or higher. Of that 63 percent, 58 percent of individuals had a degree based in agriculture. For applicants who already have a non-agriculture based job, most transferred into roles with compatible skills. Examples are trades, customer service, and sales.

In addition, more employers are beginning to value soft skills like communication and leadership qualities. In an age where it is all too easy to disappear behind a screen and keep to yourself, businesses are rarely able to succeed that way. Workers who are able to contribute to the collective and communicate ideas or concerns effectively with each other are prized candidates. Additionally, as agriculture continues to include more technology to best maximize efforts in production and quality control, you may be required to have a certain amount of competence with technology.

Top Careers in Agriculture

Technological and scientific advancements are revolutionizing every aspect of society, including agriculture. Some of the most highly anticipated jobs for the upcoming year make use of new technology to further streamline the way agriculture is conducted. Below are some of the top predicted careers through 2019:

  • Drone Technologist.
  • Agriculture communicator.
  • Precision agriculture technologist.
  • Hydrologists.
  • Food Scientists.

Drone Technologists

Drone technologists are a new position, utilizing drones and other technology to increase efficiency on farms. Drone technologists work alongside farmers to identify areas of crop damage and low yielding fields to create plans on how to reverse the problems. Other gadgets that may be employed are sensors and robotics.

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Drones can cover vast areas of farmland to quickly identify areas of concern. Certain sensors can be placed on farms to also monitor the health of crops. When crops are ready to be picked, robots can work alongside farmers to aid in harvesting a larger quantity of crops.

Agriculture Communicators

Agriculture communicators promote agriculture and attempt to educate the public. As agriculture expands and adapts it is important to relay information to the public. If you know more about how food is sourced and the way in which it is grown, it can provide more support and funding for the future. Tasks may include writing, public relations, editing, branding, and creating educational materials. The job market for agricultural communication specialists is excellent as the industry is always aiming to increase awareness. Educational requirements include a bachelor’s degree in a number of possible fields of study:

  • Agricultural communications.
  • Agricultural journalism.
  • Communications.
  • Agricultural marketing.
  • Public relations.

Agriculture Technologists

Precision agriculture technologists are responsible for creating more efficient protocols for agriculture. This includes implementation of new technologies for increasing crop yields or designing guidelines to decrease the amount of work input into a task. Precision agriculture technologists also develop informational and recommendation maps to provide the most accurate information for farmers in the area. The future job market for this career is estimated to be excellent. If you are considering a career as a precision agriculture technologist, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering, agricultural business, or agronomy. Depending on where you reside, you may also need a crop adviser certification.

Hydrologists

Hydrologists are responsible for supplies of clean, safe water while also protecting the environment and promoting sustainability measures. Researching the impact of water systems in the environment, hydrologists may be required to design various water storage and pumping systems. This is crucial for the agricultural industry, especially finding efficient but sustainable ways to provide water to crops, particularly in known drought areas. The job market for a hydrologist is reported as fair. A bachelor’s degree in one of the following subjects is required and for research-focused positions a master’s or doctorate is necessary:

  • Earth Science
  • Geology
  • Environmental science
  • Chemistry
  • Environmental Engineering

Food Science

Food Scientists are in charge of improving food products and utilizing scientific principles to maintain a wholesome food supply. They are involved in methods for packaging and distributing foods. Food scientists will also test quality controls to ensure products being marketed are safe and preserved as intended. In the event that a process is not working as intended, it is the job of food scientists to repair the issue. Educational pre-requisites for this occupation are at least a bachelor’s degree in food science, nutrition or food engineering.

Growth of the Industry in 2019

In 2019, reports from the U.S. Agricultural Trade indicate fiscal earnings are expected to be down nearly three billion dollars from last year despite expected job growth. Crops like cotton, soybeans, grain and feed, and horticultural products have all taken declines. However, agricultural imports are said to be increasing in the next year from previous forecasts. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the job outlook for agriculture is in a plateau. There is little to no expected increase in the next five years. However, employment of agricultural equipment operators is suggested to be at a six percent increase due to higher demand for automation.

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