The Coalition for a Sustainable Agricultural Workforce (CSAW) sent a clear message to D.C. this week -- help prevent the spread of misconceptions about agriculture and support increasing agricultural research and education funding to meet the challenge of feeding the world.

In a letter sent to U.S. Senate and House members of the Appropriations Subcommittees on Agriculture, CSAW outlined the issues currently at play:

  • Unprecedented challenges exist to produce sufficient food, feed, and fiber. In the next 40 years, it’s anticipated that agriculture must produce more food than has been produced over the past 10,000 years combined.
  • A growing body of data documents a significant demand for relevantly skilled and internationally astute students to enter the workforce in agricultural and food-related jobs in the next decade. Retirements alone will necessitate replacement of more than 50% of the agricultural scientific workforce in government and industry in the next decade.
  • Unfortunately, agricultural scientific disciplines report a decline in the number of highly qualified students entering their fields. Students with high intellectual capacity and interest in the fundamental sciences need to be made aware of the opportunities to work with food and environmental issues.
  • For a more sustainable future, we must prepare new scientists to bring novel and revolutionary approaches to agro-ecosystem management.

According to CSAW, decisive action is needed to stop the misconceptions and increasingly narrow view of agriculture, as referenced in the recent post by Yahoo regarding useless degrees in agriculture, horticulture, and animal science, (http://education.yahoo.net/articles/most_useless_degrees.htm). Federal and state investment in agricultural sciences with increased research funding and student support is critical. Along with the scientific agricultural community’s involvement and CSAW’s initiatives, this message can be turned around.

CSAW encourages all members of the scientific agricultural community to contact their State and Federal legislative representative and reinforce the right message. To view the CSAW letter sent to the U.S. Senate and House members of the Appropriation Subcommittees on Agriculture, visit www.sustainableagworkforce.org/CSAWLtrtoCongress2012.