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Southern Minnesota colleges offer, invest in agribusiness programs

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 6:36 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2021 at 7:59 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — The agriculture sector makes up about 10.9% of total U.S. employment.

Direct, on-farm employment accounts for about 2.6 million jobs, while employment in agriculture and food-related industries supports about 19.6 million jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Work in the agribusiness world, [has] tremendous opportunities abound for a person that enjoys working outdoors, working with people, working with technology, dealing with numbers, interacting with fellow professionals,” South Central College’s Agriculture Dean Brad Schloesser stated.

In addition, according to the USDA, 60,000 jobs are open each year in agriculture, nationwide, and 42% of those are in business and management.

That’s why colleges, including those in southern Minnesota and northwest Iowa, continue to invest in and offer agribusiness programs.

South Central College in North Mankato held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday to celebrate the opening of its new Crystal Valley Agribusiness Lab.

“Our students are able to really focus on the technical side of agriculture, really, and focus on hands-on learning,” said Schloesser.

Crystal Valley, a farm supply and grain marketing cooperative, donated $100,000 to cover half the build of the lab. Construction began in mid-2019 and was completed by May of last year.

About 100 students enroll each year in the SCC’s agribusiness programs.

At Minnesota State University, Mankato, this semester marks the start of the Agribusiness and Food Innovation program.

“We have so many students that go on to work for food and ag companies, even though they are in the College of Business,” said Shane Bowyer, director of the Agribusiness and Food Innovation Program at Minnesota State University, Mankato. “So the core curriculum is mostly business, but there are a few other classes that really focus on the ag part.”

The program was previously only available to students as a minor, but now students can major in the program.

“There are so many [ag] companies in the region that are looking for employees all across their companies from HR, marketing to engineers,” Bowyer added.

Minnesota State University already offers more than 50 courses related to food and agriculture.

Visit www.SouthCentral.edu for more information about agriculture programs offered at South Central College, or visit Minnesota State University, Mankato’s website to learn more about the food and agriculture programs available.

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