Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources

Think about life without agriculture, food, and natural resources. What would we eat? Who would create and maintain the parks that help us relax and enjoy nature? Where would we get help for sick pets? This industry has a huge impact on our daily lives, and — like other industries — technology has brought about changes in the way it operates.

Large farms increasingly use precision-agriculture sensing technology, such as drones, to monitor soil conditions; GPS systems to help steer machinery more precisely; and computer-based maps to prescribe amounts of fertilizer, seed, and chemicals for specific areas. Bioscientists have developed genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that increase crop yield and resistance to pests and disease.

Organic farming, which seeks to avoid chemicals, continues to show economic growth. While responsible for only a little more than 4 percent of total U.S. food sales, sales of organic foods are more than two-and-a-half times greater now than they were 10 years ago.*

The Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources cluster contains occupations that require all levels of training. Landscaping and groundskeeping workers and nonfarm animal caretaker positions are among the fastest-growing occupations that require the least training in this cluster. Jobs that usually require associate and bachelor’s degrees such as veterinary technologists and technicians, environmental engineers, and cartographers and photogrammetrists are also projected to increase. Employers who often hire workers in this cluster include farmers; federal, state and local governments; pest control businesses; and landscaping companies.

*“Organic Market Overview.” USDA Economic Research Service. U.S. Department of Agriculture, 7 Apr. 2014.