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Study finds improving employment opportunities in agriculture

WILLMAR -- For many of today's students graduating from high school or college, finding employment can be a very difficult and even daunting experience. But for students looking to find a job or career related to agriculture, many promising opportunities exist.

According to a study conducted by Purdue University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, employment opportunities for college graduates in agriculture and related academic fields are expected to improve over the next five years.

The report estimates that 54,400 jobs in agriculture-related sectors will be added annually in the United States between 2010 and 2015. In that same period, 53,500 students are expected to graduate each year from U.S. colleges of agriculture and life sciences, veterinary medicine, forestry and natural resources, and allied non-agricultural fields.

Nearly three-fourths of the new jobs will be in business and science occupations; 15 percent in agriculture and forestry production; and 11 percent in education, communication and government services.

Other fields with above-average job growth through 2015 include food science, plant science, biological engineering, veterinary medicine, special crop production, forest restoration, precision agriculture, crop management consulting, climate change analysis, distance education and natural resources conservation.

The report also found that during the years 2010-2015, 5 percent more college graduates with expertise in agricultural and food systems, renewable energy and the environment will be needed when compared to the years 2005-2010.

More than enough graduates will likely be available during the next couple of years in some occupations, but a shortfall of new graduates with preparation in priority business and science specialties is forecast in the later half of the period.

For more information regarding this report, visit:


Bioenergy market news reports now available from USDA

Producers, consumers and distributors of bioenergy products can access crucial data through the Bioenergy Market News Reports now being made available by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Published by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, the primary function of the reports is to compile and disseminate information that will aid producers, consumers and distributors in the sale and purchase of their products nationally and internationally. Several of the reports will even offer information on bioenergy products.

The ethanol reports include data from six regions. The regions include Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and the Eastern Corn Belt. Each report publishes daily corn bids, daily distiller grain prices and a weekly ethanol price.

A national weekly energy roundup includes prices for commodities that can be used to make energy, such as soybean oil, corn oil, tallow and greases. The prices of ethanol and biodiesel are also reported.

To access the reports, visit: www.marketnews.

Applications being accepted to perform energy audits for USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking applications from eligible intermediaries to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption. Approved applicants will receive funding to conduct energy audits and provide renewable energy development assistance from USDA.

Administered by USDA's Rural Development, $2.4 million is being made available for energy audits during the 2010 fiscal year. The funds are provided through the Rural Energy for America Program, a program authorized by the 2008 farm bill.

The program will allow agricultural producers or rural small businesses to recover up to three-quarters of the cost of an energy audit.

Audit funds are not provided directly to an eligible producer or business, but are allocated to an intermediary who in turn provides the funds to the audit recipient.

Eligible intermediaries for energy audit grants include state or local government entities; land-grant colleges and universities; other institutions of higher education; rural electric cooperatives; and public power entities.

Rural Development is accepting applications for the program until July 26. To learn more, visit:


Interested intermediaries should contact Paul Pierson at 507-372-7784 or paul.pierson@

USDA Service Centers closed Monday

Since July 4th is a Sunday this year, the annual federal holiday will be observed the following day. Therefore, all USDA Service Centers will be closed Monday.

Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.