Monday, November 19, 2012

Thank Your Farmer

With Thanksgiving coming up this week, Triogenius wondered what it was like to be a farmer who produces the food we eat...Have you ever thought about farming or something related as a career?

Farming can be anything from a small family farm to a major conglomerate involving several million-acre locations. If you grew up on a farm, you already know most of what's involved in running the place. You may have participated in 4-H in middle and high school. 4-H students often will raise an animal, such as a calf, lamb, or pig, and present it at the annual State Fair.

So how could more education be helpful?

Think of all the things involved in farming:

Farming crops--           Plant Science
                                    Soil Science and Irrigation
                                    Farm Inspectors

Farming with animals--Animal Maintenance
                                   Veterinary Science/Farm related
                                   Dairy Science
                                   Aquafarming--growing fish for food
Both crop and animal farms require you to have knowledge of:

                                     Machine Repair
                                     General building and maintenance skills
                                     Field Maintenance (fields needed for grazing)
                                     Biomedical Science
                                     Stock Market (what is your product
                                                        selling for-- varies day to day)

There are also careers in Agricultural Law, which deals not only with land and ownership issues, but also with pollution, price fixing, and corporate liabilities--what if an outbreak of food poisoning was traced back to food grown on your farm or by your company?

There is a constant stream of research being done on how to make plants disease-proof and yield more, as well as developing new plants (hybrids) and healthier animals, which includes genetic engineering and statistics.

You might focus on only dairy products (or, only milk); only turkeys, only certain vegetables like corn and soybeans, or products like honey, apples, or plants to be used in landscaping, including sod, trees, shrubs, and garden plants.

You may want to pursue organic farming--farming done with no pesticides or engineered growth chemicals. These farms tend to be smaller and require a lot more hands-on maintenance.

You may want to work as a county extension agent, who is someone who helps advise and guide farmers.

Last, while farming is a very valuable career, many times farmers find they need a second job to provide a steady income. Their income level varies year to year and is not only dependent on good weather, but also the risk of diseases in plants and animals. It is very physical, demanding, tiring work. However, most farmers will tell you they find their jobs very rewarding: Working the land and/or with animals, producing food, and enjoying the outdoors, are reasons they love what they do.

Take a few minutes to consider how your Thanksgiving feast arrived at your table and give thanks for those farmers this year.

Check out the Extension News from the University of Minnesota:

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