After many centuries of relatively slow evolution, these basic human activities have been radically transformed in the last hundred years or so. Scientific research was conducted to improve products, materials, as well as its methods. It has worked to increase the mechanization, and the adoption of better business techniques and innovations to give a modern leverage for farmers, foresters, and conservationists. And with those who buy and sell goods and services to and from them - all of these technological innovations to modernize agriculture jobs have contributed to creating an unprecedented level of productivity in agriculture and forestry. Although fewer workers produce more food and forest products for more people than ever before they are supported by a widening array of people in related fields and activities, such as equipment manufacturers, seed and fertilizer companies, food processing firms, and agricultural extension agencies. In all these areas, trained agricultural technicians play a crucial role in the ongoing effort to produce more products at less cost than ever before.
Meanwhile, agriculture, forestry, and conservation technicians who have been devoted to agricultural jobs are specially trained assistants who work with farmers, agricultural scientists, government agencies, equipment manufacturers, and many kinds of companies that buy, sell, distribute, or process agricultural and forestry products. Their usual role is to provide some kind of specialized service to their employer. Often this service involves the application of a new or well-established form of technology or the application of the results of scientific research to some aspect of agriculture, forestry, or conservation work. Many technicians, for instance, work in the area of measurement and testing. This area includes laboratory work for agricultural, forestry, or conservation scientists, design testing for agriculture equipment manufacturers, and inspecting agricultural and forest products for government agencies and food processing companies. Other technicians’ farms jobs may be involved in the repair and maintenance or in the selling of agricultural or forestry equipment. Some technicians work as supervisors of other farm or forest workers, or as liaisons between food processing companies or other large purchasers of agricultural or forest operators who produce those products. Agricultural technicians also work for state and country agricultural extension agencies offering advice and information to farmers. In all of these settings, agriculture, forestry, and conservation technicians need to be able to evaluate situations, to call upon a fund of specialized information, and to carry out appropriate tasks. For the most part, these responsibilities require that agricultural, forestry, and conservation technicians receive training beyond the high school level, usually in a program offered by a two-year vocational, agricultural, or community college and leading to an associate degree in an area of specialization.
Regarding farm employment, the needs for such specially trained technicians in the fields of agriculture, forestry, and conservation is the result of the very same developments that have served to transform agriculture, forestry, and conservation into the sophisticated endeavors that they are today, namely more mechanization, more scientific research, and better business practices. The history of all three of these developments can probably be traced back more than 10,000 years to the birth of agriculture. However, the history of these developments as they relate to technicians really begins in the nineteenth century. As late as the beginning of the nineteenth century, it can be noted before that approximately 70 percent of the U.S. labor force worked on farm related jobs. For the most part, they did their farming on the basis of traditional or local customs, without the benefit of agricultural equipment or supply companies, and without any well-developed national or even regional distribution networks. Most food that was produced on the farm was consumed on the farm, with only a little left over to sell to bring in enough cash to buy those essentials that could not be made on the farm. And most of what was used on the farm, in terms of equipment and supplies, was also made on the farm, since the small amounts of cash that farmers did have did not go very far. In short, the farm of this period was, in many respects, a self-contained unit. However, in many respects, it was the Industrial Revolution of the late eighteenth century that contributed most to the great changes that transformed agricultural jobs into a booming industry. At a very basic level, the Industrial Revolution encouraged people to think about the farm jobs they’ve been doing and to consider in finding more ways, more efficient and productive agricultural undertakings.
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