Crop Dusters -- A Dying Breed?

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There's no lack of demand for their services -- in fact, the need seems to be growing -- yet the crop-dusting profession is a graying one, and new pilots ready to enter the field are scarce, Forbes.com reports. The work is dangerous, and the bar to entry is high. Costs for equipment and insurance, and the hours required before pilots can start, have all risen over the years. Yet this summer in Iowa, crop-dusters were noticeably abundant, according to Radio Iowa News. It seems that Iowa farmers are battling soybean aphids and also are being very protective of their corn crops, which are attracting high prices created by the global demand for ethanol. Elsewhere, aerial spraying has been widely used against mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus. Andrew Moore, executive director of the National Agricultural Aviation Association, told Forbes that finding the next generation of crop-dusters will be tough, but doable. Both aviation and agriculture face recruiting challenges, he said, as the professions require a big investment of time and money, and other options may be more appealing, with less hard work and less risk. "The aviation industry has this challenge before them, agriculture has this challenge before them, we just happen to have components of both of those industries," he said.