Industry struggling to attract enough workers:

US: Innovation and growing demand leads to dearth of pro's in agriculture

US agriculture and food companies are struggling to attract enough workers, a problem the industry concedes is getting worse as innovation and growing demand for their products leads to the creation of thousands of new jobs.Agribusinesses have been working for years to shed their stodgy and outdated image to help draw employees and stop the loss of highly qualified workers to other fields such as engineering and financial services.In recent years, agribusinesses, colleges and others within the agricultural industry have promoted opportunities beyond the farmer in the field that were overlooked in the past — resulting in a dearth of employees today.

 "We certainly have a shortfall, no doubt about it," said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the Agriculture Department's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Ramaswamy added that while there has been an increase in the number of students enrolled in agriculture at U.S. universities, "that's not been enough to keep up with the demand that we've got in the workforce."The National Institute of Food and Agriculture funded a study released by Purdue University in 2010 that showed just how big of a problem the employment situation might be for the industry.The research found that, between 2010 and 2015, an estimated 54,400 jobs would be created annually in agricultural, food and renewable natural resources. To help fill the void, approximately 29,300 students are expected to earn degrees in traditional agriculture and life science-related fields each year. An additional 24,200 students are seen coming from disciplines such as biological sciences or businesses where graduates could choose to go into agriculture or another field.

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