FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The hiring outlook is gloomy for the farming industry, at least according to Careercast.com. The employment search website has listed farming as its second most endangered job for 2014.
The website projected the hiring outlook on farming to be down 19 percent by 2022. “Technology allows those already in farming to accomplish more with fewer resources–particularly workers,” according to the website.
Brad Kohlhagen, an Adams County ANR Extension Educator at Adams County Purdue Extension credited automatic steering and robotic milk machines as two advances in technology.
“There’s been a major increase in technology which has taken the workload off of the labor force,” said Kohlhagen.
Kohlhagen agreed with part of the article that said more mega farms are popping up.
“The farms are getting larger and each farm is specializing in certain areas,” Kohlhagen said, who added the big farm operations have workers who are assigned to one specific job, rather than moving from task to task. “So they may be reducing the labor force thanks to technology in that sense.”
Sommer Farms, located on the northwest side of Berne, purchased five robotic milk machines this past spring. Lance Sommer said the farm was one of the first ten in the state to put that equipment into operation.
“They give us more flexibility,” said Sommer, who said the five machines run 24 hours a day. “There isn’t exact times we have to be here at the farm. We can come and go when we want. As far as production, we’ve doubled the size of our farm and we kept the four full-time employees we had.”
Sommer said the robotic machines will keep the farm having to hire additional staff. He added that one robotic milk machine cost what it would for approximately ten employees.
Sommer agreed with Careercast’s list. “On other farms, other jobs could possibly be lost,” he said. “Technology is getting so much greater and automation is allowing people to work less and more efficient.”
Kohlhagen said there had been too many recent advancements in the industry to know if Careercast’s projections were correct.
“Agriculture, if anything, has been booming,” Kohlhagen said. “We’ve seen a lot of increase in the agricultural sales and equipment dealers.
“Everybody still has to eat food. They say by 2050 we have to double our food production, and I know we are going to get to that through technology.”
Kohlhagen said farmers are getting corn yields at 200 bushels right now, and will have to rely on advancements in technology to get that number to 400 bushels to feed the world’s growing population.