The agriculture industry has expanded more than ever before and provides a variety of opportunities to professionals interested in this often misunderstood field.

Josh Yates is Lamar County’s Texas A&M AgriLife Extension officer. He spends his time providing information to farmers and others who might need it.

“(I) work with the farmers with researched-based advice from the university itself,” he said. “Most of our programs are free unless we’re just covering mills and materials and stuff like that.”

From his position, Yates has a wide view of potential careers in agriculture. Requirements for each job vary greatly. Some require a degree. Others are trades that can be taught on the job.

Although a degree may not always be necessary, some knowledge of the position sought is beneficial. Many colleges and universities, including Paris Junior College, offer agricultural degrees in their programs.

Science and technology have helped to provide a wide range of jobs and careers in agriculture. According to the employment resource AGCareers.com, more than 250 career profiles are available to people interested in a career in agriculture. And while jobs in agriculture may not be as prevalent as they were a few centuries ago, when 72% of the workforce was employed in farm occupations in the United States, agriculture remains a booming industry that greatly affects the nation’s economy. Today, one in 12 American jobs depends on agriculture, according to the career resource Payscale.

Because farms and agricultural businesses are always looking for more people to help maintain and improve workflow, jobs in this industry generally have good pay and are in high demand.

There are many different positions that help with the production of crops and livestock, from the farmhand to the scientist. Among the potential professions for a career in agriculture are agricultural manager, reproductive scientist, agricultural engineer, horticulturist, and plant biologist.

An agricultural business manager oversees the business operations of a farm by providing organization and leadership during the production process. He or she contacts creditors, selects seeds, buys new equipment, and ensures the distribution of product.

There are even attorneys who specialize in agriculture, dealing with water and environmental issues, representing agricultural labor in disputes, ensuring proper marketing techniques are followed, handling real estate and land use issues, and much more.

An animal control officer enforces local and regional laws that pertain to the treatment and care of animals. They patrol for distressed animals and ensure cruelty-free practices are adhered to.

There are grain buyers, who work with producers to purchase grain for companies, and poultry hatchery manager, who help to handle and sort eggs while overseeing personnel and coordinating pickups and deliveries, and soil scientists, who test for minerals and contaminants in soil.

Other trades involved with the agriculture sector include welders, mechanics, electricians and technicians. These jobs help with the equipment that is used for various tasks on a farm.

A career in agriculture will depend on a person’s willingness to grab opportunity by the horns. It’s a vast industry that needs professionals with an array of skill sets.

Rebecca Chira is a rising senior at Trinity Christian Academy and a freelance writer for The Paris News.

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