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The future of agriculture is ‘extremely bright’

Everyday science in ag is one of the most technologically innovative scientific disciplines.

Forrest Laws

April 26, 2022

Andy Holt asked the Memphis, Tenn., Agricenter’s Ag Day audience how many of them had grown up on a farm? A few hands went up. “How many live on a farm now?” Even fewer hands. “How many have never lived on a farm?” Most of the hands went up.

“Primarily a non-ag crowd,” said Holt, who was recently named director of business development for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. (Most of the audience were students and teachers participating in the Agricenter’s Ag Day Student Art Contest & Exhibition.)

“So some of you young people here today are probably thinking I’ll do some art for agriculture on Ag Day, but I’m not going to choose that as a career,” he said. “I’m not going out there and work in the heat or stay out in the cold and get kicked by a cow while I’m milking it. There’s no way.”

Early decision

Holt, who owns and operates an agri-tourism and diversified livestock operation with his wife, Ellie, in Dresden in west Tennessee, said he can understand their reticence even though he decided he wanted to be a farmer when he was in the third grade.

“The issue is there’s so much more to agriculture than just actually being on a farm,” he said. “I’ve written a lot of stuff down here, although I can’t go through all of them. But they include:

“Soil science, animal science, medical advancements, climate, finance, sales, engineering, research, public relations, or any number of other types of careers that can be embedded within agriculture.”

If someone has no interest in actually working the land or working with animals, he said, “there is a world of other business opportunities in agriculture that you should be considering and looking into.”

Many may be surprised to learn agriculture is one of the most technologically innovative scientific disciplines, he said, noting that modern agriculture encompasses almost every branch of science.

“And you may say, Andy, that is the craziest statement I've ever heard. I mean we’re talking about sending people to Mars. I guarantee you the science that takes place every day within the field of agriculture will trump any other scientific endeavor out there.

“Spend some time looking at the advancements agriculture has made throughout the last several decades. It’s astonishing. It’s unbelievable the amount of food that we're producing on the acreage that we have available now. And the thing is the need will become even greater. We will have to produce more food per acre; more beef per animal; more milk per cow to meet the growing demand of the next 30 years.”

About the Author(s)

Forrest Laws

Forrest Laws spent 10 years with The Memphis Press-Scimitar before joining Delta Farm Press in 1980. He has written extensively on farm production practices, crop marketing, farm legislation, environmental regulations and alternative energy. He resides in Memphis, Tenn. He served as a missile launch officer in the U.S. Air Force before resuming his career in journalism with The Press-Scimitar.

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