According to the USDA, farm sector profitability for 2015 is expected to decline for the second straight year, with lower crop and livestock receipts as the main drivers. Despite this startling prediction, the future of agriculture is bright, and today's young people have great opportunities to create exciting careers in agriculture.
A recent report from Purdue University, in partnership with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, projects that annual job openings in agricultural and environmental fields in the next five years will exceed the number of graduates prepared to take them. Following the report, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, "Not only will those who study agriculture be likely to get well-paying jobs upon graduation, they will also have the satisfaction of working in a field that addresses some of the world's most pressing challenges. These jobs will only become more important as we continue to develop solutions to feed more than 9 billion people by 2050."
Jobs Beyond the Field
Today's agriculture reaches into every aspect of life, from computer technology, food safety and finance to international trade, consumer health and public policy. The Farm Credit System, for example, has approximately 12,000 employees across the country supporting over half a million borrowers.
Although many Farm Credit employees are loan officers, the majority work in other areas such as human resources management, information technology, finance, accounting, public relations, administration, and legal and public affairs. It takes a diversity of expertise, training and experience to make it all work; but regardless of their roles in the organization, each person plays an important part in supporting rural communities and agriculture.
"Almost a billion new consumers will enter the global marketplace in the next decade." – McKinsey & Company
The opportunity is even more impressive when we look at agriculture on a global scale. The world population is predicted to increase 47 percent by 2050. To support that growth, global agriculture production will need to dramatically increase.
According to the international consulting firm McKinsey & Company, "almost a billion new consumers will enter the global marketplace in the next decade … with an income level that allows spending on discretionary goods." This suggests there will be opportunities not only in production agriculture, but also in technology, engineering, mathematics, genetics, biology and food science.
That's why Farm Credit is optimistic about the future and is proud to encourage young and beginning farmers, not just through direct lending, but also through our support of training programs, college scholarships for rural youth, and organizations such as FFA and 4-H.
$25 Billion in Loans to Young Farmers
For young farmers, those 35 years of age or under, Farm Credit made 59,145 new loans last year, totaling almost $9 billion and representing 17 percent of all new loans made during the year. At year end, Farm Credit had over $25 billion in outstanding loans to young farmers.
We also make loans to beginning farmers, those having 10 years of experience or less, regardless of age. In 2014, Farm Credit made more than 74,000 new loans to beginning farmers, totaling over $11 billion and representing more than 21 percent of all new loans made during the year. At year end, we had $39 billion in outstanding loans to beginning farmers.
Short-term fluctuations are inevitable, but over the long term Farm Credit is excited about the future of agriculture, and we are proud to support such a dynamic and diverse industry.
– Stan Ray