What to Expect from the 2020s

We asked veterinarians for their thoughts on the key challenges and opportunities for success in eight categories during the decade of the 2020s.
We asked veterinarians for their thoughts on the key challenges and opportunities for success in eight categories during the decade of the 2020s.
(Lori Hays)

During the past decade, we saw numerous changes in beef and dairy production, and in the ways veterinarians serve those industries. These include the emergence of remote monitoring, advanced data systems, new diagnostic tools, genomic technologies, acceleration of antibiotic-resistance in cattle pathogens and drug resistance in cattle parasites.

Most of these trends will continue through the 2020s, and we’ll see the emergence of new trends, new insights and applications for science and technology in animal agriculture, along with changes in regulations, production practices, consumer perceptions and preferences.

While no one can predict every trend, veterinarians serve as forward-looking change agents in animal agriculture, as they continuously evaluate new systems, products, practices and philosophies for potential adoption on their clients’ operations.

With that in mind, we asked veterinarians for their thoughts on the key challenges and opportunities for success in eight categories during the decade of the 2020s. Following are their responses related to labor

Bob Larsen: Because less than 2% of the U.S. population is directly involved in agriculture production, many in the next generation of agriculturalists will come from but non-agriculture backgrounds. The skill sets and training needed to be prepared for agriculture jobs are diverse and provide opportunities for students with a wide variety of interests and strengths. Formal classroom education and work experience to build knowledge of animal husbandry, science, mathematics, computers, and business will help to prepare the next generation looking for agricultural careers. Skills and training in communication and management will also be important to connect consumers with producers and strengthen transparency and accountability. 

Scott MacGregor, DVM, MacGregor Consulting, Boise, Idaho:  I believe issues with labor are the largest challenge facing our industry the next 10 years. How do we recruit, train, and retrain our labor force? How are we going to consistently build cultures that have passion toward their work and execute at a high level? With low unemployment, our base of a well-qualified work force is being divided and diluted to other industries that offer better pay. Beef veterinarians should be in the middle of this.

Placing emphasis on technologies that will replace our dwindling labor force will become more important. With fewer people on the payroll, we could afford to pay them more and allow them to wear different hats. A skilled pen checker driving a feed truck makes a lot of sense to me.

As veterinarians, we have role to help future leaders. This succession of younger people coming of age will be a strong positive for our Industry.

Jacob Geis:  Labor shortages will come to a head this decade. Expansions will be put on hold while robotics and automation will become more predominant. For veterinarians, competition for quality associates and technicians will increase. Areas that experience veterinary shortages will increasingly be served by non-veterinarians.

Tom Furman:  It is very hard to find people with the skills and work ethic to be in agriculture. Pen riders qualified to work in a feedyard need skills and work ethic to care for millions of dollars’ worth of cattle, but are paid $10 to $15 per hour.

For responses relating to other subject categories, see these articles on BovineVetOnline:

Part 1: Client Services and Communications

Part 2: Medical Technology

Part 3: Animal genetics

Part 4: Antibiotic Stewardship

Part 5: Industry Structure



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