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Old perceptions, negative image & lack of knowledge.

3 The Challenges

Baby boomers are retiring. The population is growing. The U.S. demographics are becoming more diverse, yet there are fewer students from underrepresented groups enrolling in agricultural majors. Industry is having a hard time finding individuals to fill growing vacancies in agriculture and related fields, in part, due to the perception that agriculture is a dead-end career where only the negative perceptions of hard work, long hours, stoop labor, low wages, and working in harsh conditions are the norm. This negative perception will continue to challenge us in the coming years if not addressed.

 

Few Students, High Demand

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, projections from 2008 to 2018 will see an increase of 25.1 million individuals for 16 years old and older. It is estimated that the population for 16-24 year olds will grow 3.4 percent with minorities and immigrants making up the largest share of the population by 2018. Specifically, Asians and Hispanics will grow at a faster rate then other groups.

Hispanics in Agriculture

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics are projected to grow significantly over the next 10 years. In just two decades, Hispanics are projected to reach 20.1 percent of the entire US population by 2030 and culminating to 102.6 million or 24.4 percent by 2050. From 2000 to 2006 Hispanics accounted for one-half of the nation’s growth rate. This growth looks to continue into the future.

Blacks in Agriculture

Based on enrollment data from the Food and Agricultural Education Information System, which compiles nationwide higher education data for the life, food, veterinary, human, natural resource, and agricultural sciences, showed alarming enrollment data for minorities from 2005 to 2008. Students from underrepresented groups are a very small percentage of the overall agricultural enrollment in the U.S.