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Supervisor/Manager in Farming, Fishing, or Forestry

Job Outlook: -1% (Little or no change)

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  2. Does the WORK ENVIRONMENT feel comfortable?
  3. Are you ok with THE REQUIREMENTS?
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What Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers Do About this section

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers
Some farmers work primarily with crops and vegetables, whereas other farmers and ranchers handle livestock.

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers run establishments that produce crops, livestock, and dairy products.

Duties

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers typically do the following:

  • Supervise all steps of crop production or ranging, including planting, fertilizing, harvesting, and herding
  • Make decisions about crops or livestock by evaluating factors such as market conditions, disease, soil conditions, and the availability of federal programs
  • Choose and buy supplies, such as seed, fertilizer, and farm machinery
  • Maintain farming equipment
  • Maintain farm facilities, such as water pipes, fences, and animal shelters
  • Serve as the sales agent for crops, livestock, and dairy products
  • Record financial, tax, production, and employee information

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers monitor the prices for their products. They use different strategies to protect themselves financially from unpredictable changes in the markets. For example, some farmers carefully plan the combination of crops they grow, so that if the price of one crop drops, they have enough income from another crop to make up for the loss. Farmers and ranchers also track disease and weather conditions, either or both of which may negatively impact crop yields or animal health. By planning ahead, farmers and ranchers may be able to store their crops or keep their livestock in order to take advantage of higher prices later in the year.

Some farmers choose to sell a portion of their goods directly to consumers through farmer’s markets or cooperatives to reduce their financial risk and to gain a larger share of the final price of their goods.

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers negotiate with banks and other credit lenders to get financing, because they must buy seed, livestock, and equipment before they have products to sell.

Farmers and ranchers run farms that are primarily family owned. Those who do not own the land themselves may lease it from a landowner to operate as a working farm.

The size of the farm or range determines which tasks farmers and ranchers handle. Those who run small farms or ranges may do all tasks, including harvesting and inspecting the land, growing crops, and raising animals. In addition, they keep records, service machinery, and maintain buildings.

By contrast, farmers and ranchers who run large farms generally hire others—including agricultural workers—to help with physical work. Some of the workers on large farms are in nonfarm occupations, such as truck drivers, sales representatives, bookkeepers, and information technology specialists.

Farmers and ranchers follow improvements in animal breeding methods and seed science, choosing products that may increase output. Livestock and dairy farmers monitor and attend to the health of their herds, which may include assisting in births.

Agricultural managers take care of the day-to-day operations of one or more farms, ranches, nurseries, timber tracts, greenhouses, and other agricultural establishments for corporations, farmers, and owners who do not live and work on their farm or ranch.

Agricultural managers usually do not participate directly in production activities. Instead, they hire and supervise farm and livestock workers to do most of the daily production tasks.

Managers may determine budgets and decide how to store, transport, and sell crops. They also may oversee the maintenance of equipment and property.

The following are examples of types of farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers:

Crop farmers and managers are responsible for all stages of plant growth, including planting, fertilizing, watering, and harvesting crops. These farmers may grow grain, fruits, vegetables, and other crops. After a harvest, they make sure that the crops are properly packaged and stored.

Livestock, dairy, and poultry farmers, ranchers, and managers feed and care for animals, such as cows or chickens, in order to harvest meat, milk, or eggs. They keep livestock and poultry in barns, pens, and other farm buildings. These workers also may oversee animal breeding in order to maintain appropriate herd or flock size.

Nursery and greenhouse managers oversee the production of trees, shrubs, flowers, and plants (including turf) used for landscaping. In addition to applying pesticides and fertilizers to help plants grow, they often are responsible for keeping track of marketing activity and inventory.

Aquaculture farmers and managers raise fish and shellfish in ponds, floating net pens, raceways, and recirculating systems. They stock, feed, and maintain aquatic life used for food and recreational fishing.

Work Environment About this section

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers
Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers typically work outdoors, but they may spend some time in offices.

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers held about 952,300 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers were as follows:

Self-employed workers 67%
Crop production 19
Animal production and aquaculture 13

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers typically work outdoors but also may spend time in an office. Their work is often physically demanding.

Some farmers work primarily with crops. Other farmers and ranchers handle livestock.

Injuries and Illnesses

The work environment for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers can be hazardous. Tractors, tools, and other farm machinery and equipment can cause serious injury, and exposure to substances in pesticides and fertilizers may be harmful. These workers must operate equipment and handle chemicals properly to avoid accidents and safeguard themselves and the environment.

Work Schedules

Most farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers work full time, and many work more than 40 hours per week. Farm work is often seasonal, and the number of hours worked may change according to the season. Farmers and farm managers on crop farms usually work from sunrise to sunset during the planting and harvesting seasons. During the rest of the year, they plan the next season’s crops, market their output, and repair and maintain machinery. Managers of greenhouses, nurseries, or farms that operate in mild or temperate climates may work year round.

On livestock-producing farms and ranches, work goes on throughout the year. Animals must be fed and cared for every day.

On large farms, farmers and farm managers meet with farm supervisors. Managers who oversee several farms may divide their time between traveling to meet farmers and landowners and working in offices to plan farm operations.

How to Become a Farmer, Rancher, or Other Agricultural Manager About this section

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers
Farmers and ranchers that care for animals keep livestock in pens, barns, and other farm buildings.

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers typically need at least a high school diploma and work experience in a related occupation.

Education

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers typically need at least a high school diploma to enter the occupation. As farm and land management has grown more complex, farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers have increasingly needed postsecondary education, such as an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree, in agriculture or a related field.

Most state university systems have at least one land-grant college or university with a school of agriculture. Programs of study include agricultural economics and business, animal science, and plant science.

There are a number of government programs that help farmers connect with farming services. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has service centers across the country that assist new farmers in accessing USDA programs. These service centers connect farmers with programs such as those that provide financing for land and capital, help with creating a business plan, and input on conservation practices.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Prospective farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers typically work as agricultural workers for several years to gain the knowledge and experience needed to run their own farm. Some gain experience while growing up on a family farm. The amount of experience needed varies with the complexity of the work and the size of the farm. Those with postsecondary education in agriculture may not need additional work experience.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

To show competency in farm management, agricultural managers may choose to complete certification programs. The American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA) offers the Accredited Farm Manager (AFM) credential. AFM requirements include ASFMRA coursework, a bachelor’s degree, experience in farmland management, and passing an exam. A complete list of requirements is available from ASFMRA.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers monitor and assess the quality of their land or livestock.

Critical-thinking skills. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers determine how to improve their harvest and livestock while reacting to conditions that may affect their short- or long-term plans.

Initiative. Many farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers are self-employed. They must be self-motivated in order to maximize crop or livestock production. 

Interpersonal skills. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers supervise laborers and other workers, so they must be able to communicate and interact with a variety of people.

Mechanical skills. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers operate complex machinery and occasionally perform routine maintenance.

Physical stamina. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers—particularly those who work on small farms—must be able to do physically strenuous, repetitive tasks, such as bending, stooping, and lifting.

Pay About this section

Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers

Median annual wages, May 2019

Other management occupations

$91,300

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers

$71,160

Total, all occupations

$39,810

 

The median annual wage for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers was $71,160 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $37,530, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $132,760.

Incomes of farmers and ranchers vary from year to year because prices of farm products fluctuate with weather conditions and other factors. In addition to earning income from their farm business, farmers may receive government subsidies or other payments that reduce some of the risks of farming.

Most farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers work full time, and many work more than 40 hours per week. Farm work is often seasonal, and the number of hours worked may change according to the season. Farmers and farm managers on crop farms usually work from sunrise to sunset during the planting and harvesting seasons. During the rest of the year, they plan the next season’s crops, market their output, and repair and maintain machinery. Managers of greenhouses, nurseries, or farms that operate in mild or temperate climates may work year round.

On livestock-producing farms and ranches, work goes on throughout the year. Animals must be fed and cared for daily.

Job Outlook About this section

Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Total, all occupations

4%

Other management occupations

3%

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers

-6%

 

Employment of farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers is projected to decline 6 percent from 2019 to 2029.

Over the past several decades, increased efficiencies in crop production have led to consolidation and fewer, but larger, farms. This means that fewer farmers are needed to produce the same agricultural output. In addition, as farms become larger they are able to invest more in productivity-enhancing technologies, reinforcing this effect.

Despite steady demand for agricultural products, many small farms operate with slim profit margins and are vulnerable to poor market conditions. As in the past, operators of smaller farms will likely continue to exit the business over the next decade.

Job Prospects

Despite projected employment declines, about 80,900 openings for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

These openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment projections data for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers, 2019-29
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers

11-9013 952,300 890,600 -6 -61,600 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about agriculture policy and farm advocacy, visit

Center for Rural Affairs

For more information about federal resources for agriculture, visit the following websites at the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

New Farmers

Farm Service Agency

For more information on farm manager certification, visit

American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers

CareerOneStop

For career videos on farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers, visit

Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers

O*NET

Aquacultural Managers

Farm and Ranch Managers

Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers

Nursery and Greenhouse Managers

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