Growing up on a small corn/soybean farm and raising cattle, I often take for granted the opportunities I had being actively involved in production agriculture. My dad is still a farmer and I enjoy being able to take my daughter to Grandpa’s for a ride in the tractor, etc. My husband also grew up on a farm with livestock, so my daughter has an equal opportunity to be around agriculture as well. Sometimes it is easy to consider farming the norm, especially living in a rural community. The point I’m trying to make is that too often farming and ranching is considered just another job. We forget the risks they take every day.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, farming continues to be one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. In 2008, 623 people died and 60,000 people suffered from permanently disabling injuries on farms and ranches in the United States. Agriculture has a death rate of 29 per 100,000 workers, which is higher than the death rate in mining (National Safety Council, 2010).
In addition to the physical danger of the equipment itself, the economic and market conditions change regularly, so profits are uncertain, creating emotional distress. Some people still have the farm pictured as it was in the 1940 & 1950’s which was a much simpler time. Although the physical demands were more, technology didn’t change as quickly as it does today and the knowledge needed to manage agricultural operations is greater. It used to be that young people would graduate from high school and return straight to the farm which was usually sufficient to be successful. In today’s agricultural setting, youth need to further their education, at the minimum, an associate’s degree, but preferred a bachelor’s degree. It is also essential to remain a lifelong leaner from attending other non-formal educational opportunities such as extension programming, etc.
Today’s producers not only need to have a knowledge of basic cropping practices, but risk management knowledge, farm policy and regulatory requirements, sufficient knowledge of today’s modern technology and the list goes on. In addition, as consumers become increasingly disconnected where their food comes from, they must educate consumers how food is produced or product marketing skills, whether it is through social media or day-to-day communication.
With the expected increase in the global population to reach 9 billion by 2050, current food production will need to almost double, therefore farmers and ranchers are extremely important people. More land gets consumed everyday by industrial uses, so those in the agricultural industry will need to continue improving the efficiency of production with less land. Youth unsure of a career path should consider agriculture! The opportunities in agriculture are abundant and exciting! It’s not just cows, plows and sows, but science, technology, and innovation!
As families gather for Thanksgiving, not only should you give thanks for family & friends, health, and the many other blessings we have in our life, but give thanks for farmers and ranchers who prepare a wholesome, nutritious and safe meal for you every day! Happy Thanksgiving!
- The National Turkey Federation (NTF) estimates that approximately 45 million turkeys are eaten at Thanksgiving, 22 million at Christmas, and 19 million at Easter.
- Ninety-one percent of Americans surveyed by the NTF eat turkey at Thanksgiving. The average weight of turkeys purchased for Thanksgiving is 15 pounds; that’s about 675 million pounds of turkey consumed in the United States on Thanksgiving Day.