Up On The Farm

Late last week as I was pouring through the latest national economic news – which painted a pretty bleak picture for the economic recovery and business hiring options in general – I happened across the following headline on the CNN Web site:


“To Address Unemployment, Georgia Governor Proposes Farm Work”

My curiosity peaked, I read over the article (which mainly focused on using the state’s unemployed to replace migrant workers that had left the workforce). While it didn’t specifically talk about ag retail, the story did show just how lucky the world of agriculture has been in recent years when it comes to employment opportunities. Compared to the rest of the nation’s economy, where unemployment has ranged between 8.5% and 10% for the past few years, there are plenty of positions in the agricultural community that have gone wanting for workers.

Consider this quote from Jeff Solberg, CEO of GROWMARK, during an interview I conducted with him earlier this year. “There are fewer and fewer farm kids coming back to the farm these days and many of them are not looking at agriculture as a career,” said Solberg. “We have to show them that we are a successful organization in a successful industry with a great story to tell.”

I’m certain many ag retailers could also make this claim. But are they?

Each year, our CropLife 100 ranked retailers list “finding and/or keeping quality employees” as one of the major challenges facing their organizations. In fact, in the 11 years I’ve helped compile this survey, I can’t remember one where this particular issue garnered less than a 60% response rate from participants.

But does it have to be so? In our recent Environmental Respect Awards competition, I was encouraged to see several state and regional winning ag retailers noted that they had aggressive scholarship, recruitment and internship programs in place to entice younger Americans into considering jobs in agriculture for their career paths.

Given the benefits and economic stability compared to the rest of the nation’s economy, shouldn’t every retailer be able to make this boast?

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