The future of agriculture looks bright

The future of agriculture looks bright as the enrollment in ag-related bachelor’s degrees has increased substantially in the past few years. A growing number of students are being drawn to ag schools around the country, not necessarily because they grew up on a farm or want to farm land, but because of the science programs within ag and the job opportunities it brings.  

Enrollment in bachelor’s degree programs in agriculture across the country grew by 21.8 percent from 2005 to 2008, from about 58,300 students to nearly 71,000, according to surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And the numbers are likely higher as not all schools responded to the survey.

National enrollment figures for 2009 aren’t yet available from all schools, but numbers from major schools make clear the trend continues: The University of California-Davis has more than 5,490 students enrolled in agricultural majors — a jump of 210 from a year before. Purdue University has 2,575 ag students this fall, up 40 from last year.  

Keeping with the trend, Iowa State University saw nearly a 21 percent increase in enrollment in agriculture between 2005 and 2008.

The growing numbers are coming at a time in our history when it couldn’t be more important – United Nations reports an expected population of 9 billion in 2050, a population that will need advancements in agriculture and technology more than ever before. 

Have you noticed an increase in students choosing ag-related fields in your area?