Summary Guide for Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers in California
May also be called: Beef Farmers; Cash Crop Farmers; Cattlemen; Croppers; Dairy Farmers; Farm Operators; Farm Ranchers; Grain Farmers; Livestock Farmers; Poultry Farmers
Specialties within this occupation include: Agricultural or Farm Managers; Aquaculture Farmers; Horticultural Specialty Farmers; Organic Farmers and Ranchers; Sustainable Farmers and Ranchers
What Would I Do?
Farmers, Ranchers, and other Agricultural Managers* oversee and direct the daily activities on farms throughout the State. Under their supervision, the farms throughout the State are some of the most productive and profitable in the world. Farmers and Ranchers mainly operate family-owned farms or lease farmlands that are smaller in size and production output than corporate-owned farms. On larger farms, they may oversee specific business functions, such as marketing or billing. Smaller farms may require the Farmer to divide time between business operations and hands-on activities, such as harvesting, maintenance, and working alongside farmworkers and laborers. All Farmers and Ranchers are focused on the business aspect of running a farm.
Green Economy: Specialized farming methods, such as sustainable farming and organic farming require Farmers to use little or no forms of pesticides or herbicides. Farms may also recycle animal and plant byproducts for other uses, such as composting or biogas generation. Creating and using biogas from animal and plant waste, a renewable source of energy, reduces the use of fossil fuels and harnesses the potential energy of these products.
Working conditions for Farmers and Ranchers vary depending on the size of the farm and the type of crop or animal that is raised. Farmers and Ranchers who grow crops typically work from sunrise to sunset during the planting and harvesting seasons. During other times of the year they may spend their time planning for the next planting season, repairing farm machinery, and looking for new markets to sell their products. Agricultural Farm Managers may oversee multiple farms at once and need to divide their time between farms. On smaller farms, Farmers and Ranchers may spend most of their time outdoors, working alongside farmworkers and laborers regardless of the weather conditions. On larger farms, Farm Managers may spend a majority of their time working indoors on a computer, using e-mail, and spreadsheet software.
Farmers and Ranchers who work at nurseries, greenhouses, and farms with livestock generally have work year-round and typically work eight-hour shifts. Farm work can be dangerous. Farm machinery, such as tractors can cause serious injury requiring workers to be alert at all times. Pesticides and Herbicides must be used with caution in order to avoid harmful exposure to humans, animals, and the environment.
Will This Job Fit Me?
The job of Farmer and Rancher may appeal to those who enjoy working outdoors in activities that involve practical, hands-on problems and solutions. This occupation generally involves working with plants, animals, and large machinery. The job may also interest those who are attentive to detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Farmers and Ranchers must have managerial skills in order to operate a farm. Farmers and Ranchers should also be able to exercise patience, as disasters such as bad weather, crop failure, or crop damage due to insects may occur.
Sustainable and organic farming and ranching may appeal to those who are environmentally, ecologically, and socially conscious. Persistence and the ability to be resourceful are especially important since the work requires use of alternative resources and methods that are likely to be more labor-intensive than conventional farming.
What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?
The wages for Farmers and Ranchers generally vary from year to year. This is due to changing weather conditions and other factors that influence the price of farm products as well as the quantity and quality of farm output and the demand for those products. However, Farmers often receive government subsidies or other payments that supplement their incomes and reduce some of the risk of farming. Additionally, most Farmers (especially those who operate smaller farms) typically have income from non-farm business activities or careers.
The median wage in 2015 for Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers in California was $78,157 annually, or $37.58 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.
Farmers and Ranchers who own or lease the land that they farm may need to purchase their own retirement and health benefits. Farm Managers who work for large corporate farms may be provided with sick leave, paid vacations, and health benefits.
What is the Job Outlook?
Overall employment of Farmers and Ranchers is expected to decline as small family farms disappear. Openings for Agricultural Managers are expected to slightly increase as larger, better financed farms increase their presence in the agricultural landscape and hire managers to oversee specific areas of the farming business.
How Do I Qualify?
Most Farmers receive their training on the job, often by being raised on a farm. However, the completion of a two-year associate degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree at a college of agriculture is becoming increasingly important for Farm Managers and for Farmers and Ranchers who expect to make a living at farming. A degree in farm management or in business with a concentration in agriculture is important.
*This product was partially funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration. The information contained in this product was created by a grantee organization and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. All references to non-governmental companies or organizations, their services, products, or resources are offered for informational purposes and should not be construed as an endorsement by the Department of Labor. This product is copyrighted by the institution that created it and is intended for individual organizational, non-commercial use only.
Finding a Job
Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Jobs may also be found through registration with temporary employment agencies and through classified advertisements in newspapers, trade publications, and Internet job listings. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.
To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).
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