Interest in agriculture careers are on the rise
Interest in local foods and where our food comes from generates increased interest in agriculture careers, especially if local food and nutrition topics are taught in schools.
People do not always think about agriculture when they think about career opportunities and jobs. The agriculture industry is much larger than just “farmers.” It also includes building trades, natural resources trades, tourism, packaging engineering and manufacturers, food science specialists, inspectors, managers, marketers, engineers, chemists, biologists, mechanics, brokers, processors, wholesalers, retailers and so many more. Agriculture is one of the fastest-growing segments of Michigan’s economy. According to a report from Michigan Agri-Business Association, the agriculture industry is diverse and high-tech.
After many years of decline in the number of farmers the increasing number of new farmers is encouraging. The resurgence of interest in local foods, including where our foods come from and knowledge about the farmer that grew it, has created more interest in learning about local foods in schools. Youth that are learning about local foods, agriculture and nutrition in schools make more informed personal choices about food and health, says the Agriculture Council of America. This message is repeated by those supporting the local food movement. Additionally, youth who learn more about agriculture in schools are more interested in agriculture-related career choices later.
According to the Michigan Land Use Institute “Not only is locally produced food delicious, Michigan’s diverse food system offers a tremendous opportunity to create new jobs and spur economic growth. By investing in a local food economy, communities benefit from better tasting and healthier food, precious landscapes are maintained, and our local economy grows.” Taking the time to become knowledgeable about agriculture in Michigan makes you an informed citizen; informed citizens are better able to help shape the policies that support the local agriculture industry in Michigan.
For more information about local foods, contact Beth Clawson, MSU Extension educator. To learn more about local foods, community food systems and food hubs contact Michigan State University Extension Community Food System educators who are working across Michigan to provide community food systems educational programming and assistance.