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Salary, Wages, Pay: Farmers, Ranchers, and Agricultural Managers




Incomes of farmers and ranchers vary greatly from year to year because prices of farm products fluctuate depending upon weather conditions and other factors that influence the quantity and quality of farm output and the demand for those products. A farm that shows a large profit in one year may show a loss in the following year. Farmers, however, often receive government subsidies or other payments that supplement their incomes and reduce some of the risk of farming. Price supports for dairy farmers, though, are being phased out and may result in lower incomes for these farmers. Many farmers—primarily operators of small farms—have income from off-farm business activities or careers, often greater than that of their farm income.

Full-time, salaried farm managers had median annual earnings of $43,740 in 2002. The middle half earned between $32,620 and $59,330. The highest paid 10 percent earned more than $81,100, and the lowest paid 10 percent earned less than $24,410.

Farmers and self-employed farm managers make their own provisions for benefits. As members of farm organizations, they may derive benefits such as group discounts on health and life insurance premiums.