Food production and agriculture is Ohio’s largest industry and essential to our economy, contributing $124 billion annually in economic value and employing 1 out of every 8 Ohioans. Today’s farms and food companies are challenged by unprecedented barriers to finding a stable, reliable workforce. To address this issue, a broad group of Ohio’s leading agriculture organizations have collaborated behind a new initiative — Futures Grow Here.
“The focus of Futures Grow Here is to demonstrate the opportunities that are available for young adults in food production and agriculture,” said Jim Chakeres, executive vice president of the Ohio Poultry Association, a supporting organization of Futures Grow Here. “The initiative reframes the narrative around these jobs, creates excitement for them, and engages a broader and more diverse group of job seekers.”
Futures Grow Here is a collaborative initiative among Ohio food production and farming companies to educate students, young professionals and their families about their growing and innovative businesses and career opportunities that may not have been previously considered. The jobs are vast and well-paying, the employment outlook is highly favorable in these thriving industries, and employers are well-positioned to offer training, growth and advancement with both stability and opportunity.
While some positions in food production and farming require four-year or advanced degrees, there are numerous opportunities for those with technical or skilled backgrounds, and those with expertise in the trades. Futures Grow Here also is engaging Ohio’s career centers and technical programs to raise the profile of these positions among the state’s high school students.
Futures Grow Here recently launched a website in which potential job seekers can:
• Explore innovative and rewarding job opportunities in areas, including technology and computers, logistics, construction, electrician, plumbing, mechanics, welding, equipment operator, and animal management
• Read case studies on individuals who have been successful in their positions
• Learn about what the future of the industry looks like, and
• Get connected to other resources and organizations with job opportunities.
According to the 2019 Food and Agriculture Industries Economic Impact Study, more than one-fifth of the nation’s economy and one-fourth of all jobs are linked to the food and agriculture sectors. Further, a focus group and research conducted by Futures Grow Here found that young adults consistently prioritize the ability to learn and contribute to the betterment of society and the environment when looking for career opportunities.
Today’s food production and agriculture companies actively seek ways to become more efficient and environmentally conscious and are involved in their local communities. According to a recent Forbes article, food production companies are using advanced technologies to increase productivity, improve food safety and ensure affordability for all families.
“By 2050, more than 9 billion people will need 70% more food, which will need to be produced using fewer resources,” said Bryan Humphreys, Ohio Pork Council executive vice president, another supporter of the Futures Grow Here initiative. “As a top producer of many agricultural goods, like pork, eggs, soybeans and wheat, Ohio is a major contributor to the foods that are exported to families all over the world. That is why it’s essential that our food production and farming companies have a steady, skilled workforce to ensure long-term stability of the industry and economy.”