Ag Students, take heart. Your degrees aren’t useless.

An article recently posted on Yahoo! Education website is causing quite a stir within the Ag community.

The article, entitled “College Majors That Are Useless,” claims that the number one most useless degree is Agriculture. (Animal Science and Horticulture are listed as the number four and number five.)

The author of this article, Terence Loose, makes it pretty clear that he has a narrow view of the types of jobs available to a person with and Agriculture degree:

“If your idea of a good day is getting up with the sun and working till it sets as an agricultural manager, a degree in agriculture might be your calling…”

“Just don’t expect farms and ranches to be calling you.”

So… Who said that everyone with an Agriculture degree wants to work on a farm or a ranch? We wish that Mr. Loose had spent a little time researching the wide array of careers available to Agriculture students.  A quick glance at a website like AgCareers.com, would have shown him that there are hundreds of options for those with an Ag background.  Many Agriculture students go on to work in the offices and laboratories for Fortune 500 companies such as Archer Daniels Midland, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Tyson Foods and John Deere.

Furthermore, we shouldn’t be so quick to discourage those who are interested in working as a farm or ranch manager.  The world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. That means that we’ll need more farmers and ranchers who have the education needed to produce more food even more efficiently than they do now, in order to meet growing demand. Without those “useless” Ag degrees, we may find ourselves in a precarious situation in the near future, where there is not enough food to go around, and the food that is available is too expensive for most families. (Check out the “Plenty to Think About” blog for more thoughts on how farmers will feed a hungry planet in the coming years.)

Today’s agriculture industry is far more diverse and offers more opportunities than most people realize. And, people who choose agriculture careers know that they are doing work that matters. They are feeding and clothing the world, creating jobs and protecting our planet’s natural resources. What’s useless about that?

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14 comments on “Ag Students, take heart. Your degrees aren’t useless.

  1. I did-not go to college as I once hope. I was Vermont FFA State President in 1946. Recieved the American Farmers degree in 1947. I went to the Dairy Farm in Vermont and in 1953 I changed completly to Organic Farming. In1958.I won the New England in Winter Green Pastures Contest over farmers using Chemical Also won many hay awards with 99..5 to 99.7 out of 100 at the Vermont Farm show. I am doing gardening here in Goode, Va organic with great success. I do not say college is of no use as I think it to be a help in future work. I do believe alot of Logic gets lost now in the College programs. I have taken some soil samples here this fall and have bulit the soil to 9.6 organic matter. All the elements are high and very high without any Chemical fertilizer. I understand the phousphorous can run out in 30 years. I would say that this would be a disaster for feeding the population. i can out produce the chemical gardeners being Organic. I think the time is now to start working away from depending on Chemical Fertilizer. It will be the younger generation that will do it. The book I wrote will explain how it can be done. It is on Amazon in the book title. Ihope I can get the FFA interested in what I learned over the years. learnedbythefencepost@hotmail.com

  2. I agree with your views completely on making an Ag Degree worthwhile. I think the usefullness of any degree to large extent depends on where the heart is.

  3. Totally agree with Donald, and Euner. Having taught Agriscience for over 30 years, students found careers in Toxicology, Environmental Science, Animal Science, Wildlife,Turf Management, Floral, Landscaping and a host of careers that took them outdoors as well as behind the computer. My husband said what would happen if we stopped producing food and caring for our natural resources? Too scarey to think. We need more teachers in Agriculture and marketing to society of its importance. Now a farmer growing organic produce for the Farmer’s Market.

  4. If you can find a way to proudce crops at an ouput which the world needs without using a chemical fertilizer? I would love to hear about it Donald, but since were talking about feeding the world and not organically gardening in the Northeast, I think we should keeep some logic about how that is a senseless idea at the moment. It is basically impossible to raise organic matter that high doing actual production agriculture. There is PLENTY of logic used where I study Agriculture promting the all around efficency of prodcts used in production agriculture. We can’t even feed 7 Billion people now, so we better have people studying at universities finding a way to make things more efficent from a crop and soil aspect. Its going to come to the point where people eat less meat and find other ways to get that protein if somethings not done because some people think beef and things are expensive now, just wait a decade or two. An agriculture degree is pretty importnat for the survival of our planet.

  5. SOMEBODY needs to figure a way to get away from mono crops & chemicals or there won’t be pollinators & it won’t matter about soils. We need to go back to local farming as much as possible & there would certainly be a need for Ag degrees to support farms in and near towns & cities all over the country. We need to be able to feed ourselves and to teach other countries to feed themselves. That is basic survival. Remember the Peace Corp? I don’t think it’s a good idea to be so dependent on miles & miles of corporate “farms”. Companies like Dow, Archer Daniels Midland, Dupont don’t care a thing about honeybees or nutrition. Growth, expansion & the bottom line ($$) is what’s important to them. Of course, this would be a drastic change & that is far too scary for most people so I’m pretty sure there will not be much support or even consideration for this opinion.

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