Wet season could signal job deluge for agri-specialists

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Are we about to see torrential demand for bankers and traders with agricultural expertise?

Maybe - the recent end of the drought in some areas and rising prices for soft commodities are creating opportunities both for traders specialising in agricultural products, and for agri-economists who can predict what's going to happen next in the sector.

According to the Australian Financial Review, agri-economists in particular are now hot property, with new listed funds like PrimeAg opening in the area, and international banks making agribusiness their international area of focus.

Sydney-based recruiter Tim Larkworthy, banking and finance specialist from Hudsons, says rising trading volumes have created opportunities for traders specialising in agricultural products: "A trader with three to five years' experience can earn between AU$150k and AU$200k. Then, depending on the employer and a trader's performance, bonuses of 100% of salary or more are achievable."

National Australia Bank's agri-economist Frank Drum says an agricultural economics degree is a minimum requirement for his profession.

"We look at how changing seasonal conditions, trade, and disease issues can impact on the price of agricultural commodities. Also we might look at the increased use of ethanol on grain prices, or how higher incomes in Asian countries can impact meat consumption."

Looking ahead, Drum says the outlook for the farm sector is positive for 2008. "Winter crop productions will be up significantly this year. As long as good rainfalls continue we expect to see more barley, more wheat and more canola. With world grain prices expected to remain high, this points towards a pretty positive outcome for farm income."