Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers

by Kate Williams

What Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers Do

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoAC6Ql_Fx4

Work Environment

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

How to Become a Farmer, Rancher, or Other Agricultural Manager

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

Pay

The median annual wage for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers was $71,160 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

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.

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.

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.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Animal Care and Service Workers

Animal care and service workers attend to animals.

High school diploma or equivalent $24,990

Agricultural Engineers

Agricultural engineers solve problems concerning power supplies, machine efficiency, the use of structures and facilities, pollution and environmental issues, and the storage and processing of agricultural products.

Bachelor’s degree $80,720

Agricultural and Food Science Technicians

Agricultural and food science technicians assist agricultural and food scientists.

Associate’s degree $41,230

Agricultural and Food Scientists

Agricultural and food scientists research ways to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural establishments and products.

Bachelor’s degree $65,160

Agricultural Workers

Agricultural workers maintain crops and tend to livestock.

See How to Become One $25,840

Construction Equipment Operators

Construction equipment operators drive, maneuver, or control the heavy machinery used to construct roads, buildings, and other structures.

High school diploma or equivalent $48,160

Grounds maintenance workers

Grounds Maintenance Workers

Grounds maintenance workers ensure that the grounds of houses, businesses, and parks are attractive, orderly, and healthy.

See How to Become One $30,890

Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents

Buyers and purchasing agents buy products and services for organizations. Purchasing managers oversee the work of buyers and purchasing agents.

Bachelor’s degree $69,600

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

Aquacultural Managers

Nursery and Greenhouse Managers

O*NET

Aquacultural Managers

Farm and Ranch Managers

Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers

Nursery and Greenhouse Managers


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/farmers-ranchers-and-other-agricultural-managers.htm (visited ).


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