How to Become a Farmer

Farming is an important part of the agriculture field that deals with growing a variety of crops for many different reasons. Farmers are skilled workers who direct farming activities to produce food and fiber for people around the United States and the world.

What does a farmer do?

Farmers own and operate a variety of farms. They make executive decisions and determine the best time to plant seeds, apply chemicals and fertilizers, and harvest and market crops. They carefully plan the mixture of crops they grow and consistently monitor the changing prices of the crops. Farmers sell their crops to individuals at Farmers’ Markets and to food-processing companies. They also often use computers to store their inventory and financial records and manage farming operation such as dairy and breeding. Crop farmers grow a variety of crops such as cotton, grain, vegetables and fruit. They make sure the crops are stored, packaged, and marketed. Livestock, poultry, and dairy farmers care for animals and supervise breeding and marketing tasks.

What kind of training does a farmer need?

Most farmers gain their skills from growing up or working on farms, but many farmers have associate or bachelor degrees in agriculture, farm management, or other related fields. Aspiring farmers often complete courses in agriculture, agronomy, horticulture, dairy science, animal science and crop and fruit science. Farming students learn the technical knowledge of crops, conditions for growing, and diseases of plants. Many new farmers work with experienced farmers during their education to gain practical experience. Some complete formal apprenticeships after graduation. Farmers must stay up to date on the advances in the field both in the United States and globally.

What are the prospects for a career as a farmer?

Employment of farmers is projected to decline moderately, decreasing 8% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The consolidation of farms will drive employment decline.

Despite employment decline, job prospects are expected to be favorable especially for farmers who grow corn for ethanol production and those who grow crops for landscaping. There will be some job openings due to the need to replace farmers that retire or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do farmers make?

As of October 2009, farmers with 1 to 4 years experience earn average annual salaries between $23,966 and $50,000. Those with 5 to 9 years experience earn average annual salaries between $22,506 and $57,500 (2).

A career as a farmer is a great choice for individuals who have a strong interest in a variety of farming activities. Farmers must be able to successful organize and operate a variety of farms. They must be able to grow and care for a variety of crops and animals and keep accurate financial records. Patience, determination, perseverance, and good problem solving skills are essential. Farmers must also have good communication and interpersonal skills to work with a variety of consumers and professionals when marketing and selling their products.

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