Agriculture is one of the few sectors of the U.S. economy where college graduates have bright prospects for finding employment. But many young people, particularly in the Northeast, don't have agriculture on their employment "radar".
Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation and University of Massachusetts-Amherst (UMass) plan to raise that awareness by creating a new undergraduate ag learning center on the Amherst campus. Farm Credit East and CoBank are each chipping in $10,000 to support this partnership effort.
UMass plans to open the Agricultural Learning Center as a hands-on living classroom or field laboratory for students to pursue active learning about all forms of agriculture in the Commonwealth, including the farming, horticultural and landscape industries. By having areas devoted to livestock, fruits, vegetables, turf, and landscape crops, the Center for Agriculture and Stockbridge School will be able to offer a broad array of agricultural topics to both UMass students and the general public, educating the region's next generation of farmers and agricultural industry employees..
"Farm Credit East is committed to the long term success of agriculture in Massachusetts" says Bill Lipinski, Farm Credit East CEO. "Our donation to this project will help support the University of Massachusetts to continue educating future generations of Massachusetts' agricultural producers."
A recent report by Farm Credit East noted that there are 7,700 farms throughout the state of Massachusetts, maintaining more than 500,000 acres of farmland. The state's agriculture and related processing activities are important contributors to the local economy as exemplified by the $13 billion in output and 68,110 jobs the state's agricultural industries contributed to the local economy in 2010. And that output is growing with the "buy local" and value-added marketing.