Ag Employers Face Major Challenges

Approximately 50 agriculture industry and educational professionals participated in lively discussion about employment topics at the Western North America Ag and Food Human Resources Roundtable.

The Roundtable took place May 4-6 at the Hyatt Regency Monterey and was hosted by AgCareers.com, the leading supplier of human resource services to the agriculture and food industry. Among those in attendance was A.G. Kawamura, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. He welcomed participants and encouraged them to be proactive by addressing future obstacles for the agriculture industry.

“Our industry is facing significant challenges, especially on the subject of human resources,” Kawamura said. “The retirement of baby boomers, indifferent perceptions of agriculture careers, climate change and energy needs are just a few, and we need to address these things now so our industry doesn’t just survive the future, but thrives
in it.”

In addition to Secretary Kawamura, other presenters included Franci Phelan, chief human resources officer of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Julie Venierakis, senior human resources manager at Valent; Jim Welch, president and founder of The Growth Leader, Inc.; and many others.

“The quality of the speakers and the diversity of the attendees provided for excellent dialogue about a number of issues facing all human resources professionals in the ag industry today,” said Anne Cleary, director of human resources at Wilbur-Ellis.

Participants attended a variety of sessions on topics such as strategies for effective human capital management, linking universities and employers to create success, and the perception of careers in agriculture.

Amie Hammond, career counselor at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, said she enjoyed learning about the timely topics and having the opportunity to network with other professionals.

“It was very helpful to hear firsthand what employers are seeking in candidates,” Hammond said. As a university career counselor, I always encourage students to develop strong communication skills, gain internship experience, and learn how to work as part of a team. However, it provides additional credibility when I can say that I’ve heard it directly from the employers.”

This was the first year the Roundtable was hosted in the western United States, and Eric Spell, AgCareers.com president, was pleased with the event’s success.

“This event allows industry and educational professionals to discuss recruitment and retention issues and share ideas for improvement,” Spell said. “The lively discussion and open sharing proves that our industry professionals strive to be employers of choice.”

Spell said that AgCareers.com received positive feedback about the event and plans to host another Western Roundtable in 2010 with the hope of attracting even more
participants.

For more information on the Western North America Ag and Food Human Resources Roundtable and other upcoming events, visit www.AgCareers.com.

(Source: AgCareers.com)

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