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Agriculture generates jobs in farming and beyond

Many sectors of our current economy are having a difficult time regaining strength; however, there are jobs and business opportunities in the agricultural sector now and into the future. Agricultural careers can be in farming and ranching, processing, marketing and merchandising, scientific, engineering and educational fields.

The agricultural, food, and renewable energy sectors of the U.S. economy will generate an estimated 54,400 annual openings for people with baccalaureate or higher degrees between 2010 and 2015, according to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. These openings don't include additional opportunities for those with other degrees and non-skilled workers.

Minnesota is home to innovative farmers, prosperous agricultural industries, and a natural resource base that allows agriculture to be successful. The state also boasts a high quality education system, and this may be a big part of why Minnesota has an edge in agriculture.

A quality education system provides tools and resources for an ever-changing industry. Many high schools in the state have agriculture programs. University of Minnesota Extension offers agricultural sciences and leadership programs for youth through 4-H. Quality secondary education is available through the University of Minnesota. Extension is a constant educational resource and connection for the most current research-based information in agriculture and natural resources.

These educational resources are important because agriculture is the second-largest economic sector in Minnesota after manufacturing. The economic impact of agriculture is about $75 billion and 342,000 jobs, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The total annual value of agricultural products sold in Minnesota is approximately $13 billion, which ranks seventh nationally, according to the USDA Minnesota Agricultural Statistics Service.

For many generations, some of the largest national and international agribusinesses have maintained residence in Minnesota. The state features some of the greatest small- to medium-sized agribusinesses that continue to provide jobs for skilled and non-skilled employees alike.

For those of us living in Minnesota, agricultural careers that offer satisfaction and quality livelihoods are attainable. For the most up-to-date educational information in many areas of agriculture, visit