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Sunday, October 14, 2007 

Another looming "food" disaster....

Farmers are becoming extinct. You can't have food on the shelves or in Farmer's Markets if you don't have people knowledgeable in making edible things grow.

Agriculture schools in California and throughout the nation are hoping fresh slogans will cultivate interest among high school graduates who don’t know wheat from Wheaties.

The same universities that a generation ago churned out legions of agriculture professionals today largely struggle to woo students. Many students who are studying agriculture are clamoring for cheese class and wine-making seminars and shunning fields such as soil science and crop production.

Many schools are wrestling with declining enrollment, as a large portion of the agricultural work force is nearing retirement.

In California, one-third of the public and private plant doctors who monitor the health of the state’s $32- billion agriculture industry will retire in 10 years or less. One-third of the state’s county agricultural commissioners, whose inspections help keep out voracious foreign pests such as the Mediterranean fruit fly, will retire in the next five years. Yet enrollment in horticulture programs at the state’s top agriculture schools has dropped as much as 40 percent in the last five years.

...The looming work force gap has industry experts and agriculture school officials hiring marketing companies to spruce up their images. It’s a tall order: How do you make farming hip? - SLO Tribune

San Luis Obispo, just a bit up the coast, is home to one of the California Polytechnic campuses. Or, as we have affectionately called it "Cow" Poly. It has been around for quite some time, and it is well known for it's substantial "Ag" programs.
Since 1903, when Cal Poly built its first farm structures in San Luis Obispo and dedicated land to agriculture studies, the university has steadily built its programs to become one of the five largest agriculture colleges in the country.With more than 3,800 students, agriculture ranks second in enrollment only to engineering among Cal Poly’s colleges.

....“About 1 percent of the students who take the SATs consider agriculture a future career,” said Mark Shelton, associate dean of Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. “That’s a strong message telling us we haven’t sparked young people’s interest in the positive opportunities we have to offer—and to show them that food and water are some of the most significant issues we have ahead of us.” - SLO Tribune

Time to truly give farmers and farming the "props" they deserve. Instead of glorifying people who play make believe and get paid millions to essentially do nothing, let's start celebrating people in our society who actually make it function. Watch Friday the 13th Part 56 or eat. Which is more important to us all as a community? As a State? As a Country? As Human Beings?

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The farmers I talk to are disgusted. They're upset with our Government. Many are getting out because it's too hard to make it.

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