There are plenty of opportunities to work in agriculture beyond just the farm or ranch.
That was the message of a workshop hosted by the Oregon Department of Agriculture during the 2018 Oregon FFA State Convention in Redmond.
Ben Krahn, livestock water quality specialist for the agency’s Confined Animal Feeding Operations program, gave a crash course on the vast inner workings of ODA, everything from foreign marketing and animal safety to helping neighbors resolve disputes.
Outreach to Oregon students is part of ODA’s latest five-year strategic plan — what officials call the “agriculture is cool” objective.
One thing ODA does not do is make laws, Krahn was quick to clarify. He described the department as servants of the Oregon Legislature, which in turn works for the public.
“We massage things to figure out what is in the best interest of everybody,” Krahn said.
In terms of helping to bring food from the farm to the table, Krahn said ODA not only works abroad by taking trade missions to countries such as China, but at home as well through programs such as the Buy Oregon initiative or Farm-to-School Network.
“In Oregon, we grow a crazy amount of food, and a crazy amount of products,” said Krahn, referring the state’s more than 200 types of crops. “We help to market those products.”
Fostering co-existence between farms and neighbors is another major issue, Krahn said, and though it can be challenging to solve differences, it can also be fun and enlightening.
The agency also has responsibility for protecting natural resources through things like water quality and animal safety. Jobs are available with ODA doing things like brand inspections, health certificates and bio-security, Krahn said.
To top it off, ODA runs a variety of certification and training programs, including organic agriculture, seed sampling and pesticides.
“We have all walks of life, and all expertise,” he said. “Because everything comes back to agriculture.”
Krahn encouraged FFA members to keep in touch with the agency for future job and internship openings.
“We’d love to hear from you,” he said. “We just hope you think of us.”