Farming is just a family business, right, passed on from generation to generation? Well, if In 2010 there was reported 1.2 million farming jobs in the U.S., we can pretty much guess that most of those farmers did not grow up on the farm. How does one learn this trade then? Why, she or he gets educated!
Yes, you can study Organic Farming! Most Colleges that have Agricultural departments have Farming options as part of a bachelor’s of science degree program. Your degree may be in straight Agriculture, but in order to learn how to farm organically you will need to either find a school that has that specific concentration or center an internship (which is often required) around an organic farming experience. Farming in general is a tough path, and to learn how to do it organically you need to make sure you understand the difficult process of obtaining certifications and follow the rules and standards of this career path.
At the basic level students will study topics such as growing crops, the fundamentals of livestock health, land conditions, veterinary science, plant infection, soil management and then continue to delve into the organic side of things such as sustainable practice, environmental implications, as well as how growing organically impacts farm economics.
This is the final step into calling yourself an Organic Farmer. Say you’ve been educated, you have hands-on experience, usually in the form of an internship, so now you are ready for the grueling process of making your farm certified organic.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets this standard; you know the little green seal on your supermarket produce that reads USDA Organic. This seal not only shows your commitment to the ethical practices of farming organically (you know, no pesticides, fertilizers, insecticides), but also growing in a way that relies on crop rotation, composting and in some cases taking it further to promotion of a process called Biodynamic Organic Farming, which is farming with the focus of using minimum machine-driven cultivation methods.
Organic Farming is a practice that includes using traditional means of farming and marrying that with a scientific knowledge of ecology and modern technology. These principals are based on naturally occurring biological processes.
Farming is hard work, and without all the shortcuts of modern technology, it’s even harder. Organic Farming isn’t just a job; it’s a life. You have to be prepared to live with the land, the plants, and the animals you work. Be prepared for disappointments, struggles, and exhaustion. But then, be proud of what you’ve made – healthy food that makes life better for people and the environment.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers is projected to decline 19% from 2012 to 2022. Now while that sounds like terrible news for conventional farmers, remember we are talking about Organic Farming here. Experts say that the Organic industry is completely consumer driven. And that’s good news for Organic Farmers, as eating organically is a growing trend in the United States. Conventional farmers trying to switch to growing organically is no easy task, and much money will be lost initially; however, after several years of work, a farmer ought to find they have entered a successful niche market that will continue to be amongst the fastest growing segments in Agriculture.