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Try to get summer or part-time employment in your desired specialty—for example, a clerical job in a farm insurance agency or as a laborer in a feed and grain company. Because many technical colleges offer evening and online courses, it may be possible to obtain permission during your senior year to audit a course or even to take it for future college credit. Work experience on a farm will give you insight into the business concerns of farmers, as will industry periodicals such as Farm Journal (http://www.farmjournal.com). Join your high school's chapter of the National FFA Organization or a local 4-H group, where you may have the opportunity to work on farm-management projects.
Agribusiness is as diverse a field as agriculture, and it involves professionals in economics, sales, marketing, commodities, science, and other areas. Technicians assist these professionals. They may work for a farm or for a business or organization that assists farmers. They may spend their workdays out in the field or behind a desk or a combination of these two. Their work may focus on such areas as grain, livestock, or dairy farm production.
Some agribusiness technicians choose to go into business management, working as part of a personnel-management office for a large corporate farm or dairy. In such a position, the technician manages staff, coordinates work plans with farm managers, and oversees the entire salary structure for farm or other production workers. Other agribusiness technicians work as purchasing agents, supervising all the buying for large commercial farms. Another option for the agribusiness technician is to work as a farm sales representative, finding the best markets for the produce of farms on a local, state, or national level. In this capacity, the technician travels a great deal and works closely with records technicians and other personnel of the farm or farms he or she represents.
Some agribusiness technicians assist farmers with record keeping. The records that farmers and other agricultural business people must keep are becoming more detailed and varied every year. Agribusiness technicians may set up complete record-keeping systems. They analyze records and help farmers make management decisions based on the accumulated facts. Digital record keeping is common now, so there is a tremendous need for agricultural records technicians who can create tailor-made software programs (or know how to use existing software) to help farmers get maximum benefit from their output. Furthermore, they analyze the output and make practical applications of the information.
In some positions, such as agricultural quality control technician, the technician works directly with farmers but is employed by another company. Dairy production field-contact technicians, for example, serve as contact people between dairy companies and the farms that produce the milk. They negotiate long- or short-term contracts to purchase milk and milk products according to agreed-upon specifications; meet with farmers to test milk for butterfat content, sediment, and bacteria; and discuss ways to solve milk-production problems and improve production. They may suggest methods of feeding, housing, and milking to improve production or comply with sanitary regulations. They may set up truck routes to haul milk to the dairy; solicit membership in cooperative associations; or even sell items such as dairy-farm equipment, chemicals, and feed to the farmers they contact.
Poultry field-service technicians represent food-processing companies or cooperative associations. They inspect farms to ensure compliance with agreements involving facilities, equipment, sanitation, and efficiency. They also advise farmers on how to improve the quality of their products. Technicians may examine chickens for evidence of disease and growth rate to determine the effectiveness of medication and feeding programs. They may then recommend changes in equipment or procedures to improve production. They inform farmers of new techniques, government regulations, and company or association production standards so they can upgrade their farms to meet requirements. They may recommend laboratory testing of feeds, diseased chickens, and diet supplements. In these cases, they often gather samples and take them to a laboratory for analysis. They report their findings on farm conditions, laboratory tests, their own recommendations, and farmers' reactions to the company or association employing them.
Agribusiness technicians also work for credit institutions that solicit the business of farmers, make appraisals of real estate and personal property, organize and present loan requests, close loans, and service those loans with periodic reviews of the borrower's management performance and financial status. They also work as farm representatives for banks, cooperatives, or federal lending institutions. In this capacity they sell their organizations' services to farmers or agricultural business people, make appraisals, and do the paperwork involved with lending money.