By: Shannon Wietjes and Ali Steuer, Mentoring Students
Recently…in the student realm.
I’m a senior in college this year, which means I am on the job hunt. I’ve had a few internships throughout my college career and am involved in several great organizations, like the Pork Mentoring program through the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, where I have expanded my knowledge about the agricultural industry. I have a passion for agriculture and know I will always have more to learn about the industry. However, in the interviews I’ve experienced so far I have felt bombarded with questions about specific aspects of the industry and am expected to know everything in order to get a job. Unlike many of my peers who have similar interests in the agricultural industry, I attend Nebraska Wesleyan University, which has allowed me the opportunity to teach my peers at NWU about agriculture, because many of them are not from an agriculture background. Unfortunately, I have noticed in my recent interviews that the fact I don’t have the chance to take agriculture classes at NWU may hurt my chances to get a job in some parts of the industry.
I love agriculture and I want to learn more about it. I have made it my mission to teach others about the food they eat and the industry that keeps them full and clothed. While it is a challenge to show potential employers that I am willing to learn even though I don’t take classes that directly relate to agriculture, I know that this industry is where I belong and I will have to work even harder than my peers who decided to take classes that directly relate to the industry. Learning is a continuous process, and even though I will be graduating in May, I am excited to see where I end up within the agricultural industry and expand my knowledge about agriculture throughout my life. Learning is a lifelong process and I want to show others that I can be a part of the agriculture industry despite my lack of formal education in the industry. Who knows where I’ll end up; but one thing I do know is that I’m up for the challenge of helping and promoting agriculture.
* To read Shannon’s agriculture column in the Nebraska Wesleyan Reveille (school paper), follow this link: http://www.thereveillenwu.com/opinions.
Recently…in the production realm.
Just last month, during National Pork Month, the United States passed the largest trade agreement since 1994 with countries Panama, Columbia, and South Korea. The long awaited bilateral trade agreements were passed on October 12, 2011, after years of negotiations first initiated by the Bush Administration. With negotiations beginning in 2006 in Columbia and 2007 with both Panama and South Korea, these trade agreements have been much anticipated by those in the agricultural sector.
According to Bob Livingston, “The agreement with South Korea will remove duties on about two-thirds of American farm exports, as well as phase out tariffs on more than 95 percent of industrial and consumer exports over the next five years.” The bilateral agreement with South Korea is by far the most significant in terms of agricultural trade. According to the USDA, in 2010 South Korea ranks first of the three countries in two-way U.S. agricultural trade. Of the three, they also have the largest population and the strongest, most developed economy. Those hog producers which specialize in the area of exporting meat to Japan and Singapore can also expect a new market to engage in the trans-Pacific area.
This graph shows the projected “piece of pie” that South Korea, Columbia, and Panama will share in all U.S. Agricultural Exports. (USDA, 2011.)
The trade agreement provisions in the Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama combined are estimated to result in between $2.3 billion (USDA’s Economic Research Service) and $3.1 billion (U.S. International Trade Commission) in higher agricultural exports. For the agricultural industry as a whole, with particular emphasis on the pork industry, the free trade agreements were a source of significant news. With one in four pigs produced in the United States already being used for exports, it is exciting to see the United States pass these agreements. US hog producers can expect in the future a greater world demand for their product! I commend the Obama Administration for increasing foreign relations as well as helping the United States agricultural sector.