Will Robots Take Our Ag Jobs?
Automation in agriculture is, of course, a good thing, but some fear that it may take jobs away. Ag economist Dr. Aaron Smith says that history shows that’s not the case.
Smith… “People always worry that when a technology comes and replaces some tasks that a human used to do, that humans will then have nothing to do and that doesn’t turn out to be true. Right now we’re at three-point something record low unemployment in the United States, for example, so the long-run view is that the work that humans do will change. Just like computers, there will be things that augment jobs and help people do their jobs better and then people will be doing different jobs. And in agriculture, for example, we’ll have fewer people in the fields hand harvesting or hand weeding crops, for example, and more of that will be done by machines.”
Smith also notes that those who do lose their jobs to technology can easily repurpose their skills.
Smith… “The main thing that I think about is that question of who wins and who loses and how we should think about compensating those who lose. Particularly I’m thinking of agricultural labor, those are the people that are going to lose the jobs that they had, and so how can we as a society figure out how to help those people to how to transition into different types of employment. I think that’s the way to think about it rather than think about stopping the technology.”
Technology should be seen as an asset, rather than an obstacle, especially as farm labor becomes harder to come by.