KEEPING THE SKILLS OF WORKERS CURRENT
All of us know that the threats to agriculture in the coming years are many and varied. The global economy continues to drive many changes. The involvement of agriculture as a source of energy adds many new variables to the picture. Genetic engineering involves moral and market decisions for producers. Responding to our environmental responsibilities while continuing to stay productive adds another set of challenges.
AT THE FARM LEVEL
We see the interaction of technology and workforce issues as some of the most difficult with which a producer must contend. We continue to see the need to increase the scale of our operations to remain competitive. Often, this means that our families do not provide enough manpower to get the basic tasks done. We continue to hire more and more non-family workers who may or may not have the skills that we need. For many of our workers, communicating in English is alone a challenge.
When we combine this situation with the increasingly complex set of knowledge and skills that are needed to run agricultural operations, we realize that we may be on the verge of a workforce crisis. Add to this the fact that the pipeline from school to work for agricultural careers from farmer to veterinarian to equipment mechanics is virtually empty…and we realize that the crisis is not in the future…it is now.