Job Profile – Field Operations Farm Manager

Greenhouse Tomatoes

photo by Karin Higgins/UC Davis

Field Operations Farm Manager

Basic Job Description:

Direct and coordinate, through subordinate supervisory personnel, activities of workers engaged in agricultural crop production for corporations, cooperatives, or other owners.

Read the entire job description here.

Do you love spending your days outdoors? Can you envision overseeing the day-to-day operations of a farm or ranch? Are you good at delegating tasks and managing others? If you enjoy watching the fruits of your labor grow you may want to consider a career in Farm Management. Job duties may include directing and coordinating daily activities such as planting, irrigating and harvesting and managing crop production, recording and preparing financial and operational reports, analyzing and inspecting soil, equipment and production strategies, purchasing, hiring training, and negotiating sales. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers typically gain skills through work experience and usually have at least a high school diploma. As farm and land management has grown more complex, more farmers and ranchers now have a bachelor’s degree in agriculture or a related field. Additionally, a number of government programs help new farmers get training. The median annual salary was $60,750 in 2010.

A farm manager often takes on many jobs in an agricultural operation. At large farms, a manager could be responsible for a single facet of a farm’s operations, such as hiring and training farm workers or marketing. At smaller farms they might supervise all phases of production. Part business, part management, part customer service, a career in Farm Management is definitely challenging. To help get started consider’s 5 steps to becoming  a farm manager:

Step 1: Earn a Degree

The growing technical and financial complexity of modern farming increasingly favors managers who have postsecondary education. A number of schools offer bachelor’s degree programs in agricultural or agribusiness management that prepare you for day-to-day decision-making on a farm or for industry roles like sales or policy-making. Program courses often cover crop science, animal science, accounting, economics and government policy.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

If you grew up on a farm, you may have already learned many skills necessary to run one. However, if you’re coming to farming as an adult, you could participate in an internship or practicum to gain experience. Opportunities are available with trade associations and state and federal agricultural agencies. Many bachelor’s degree programs include a course or courses that provide field experience.

Step 3: Pursue a Job

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that approximately 248,100 farm, ranch and other agricultural managers held jobs in 2008 ( Figures for farm managers alone weren’t available. From 2008-2018, the BLS projected employment to grow six percent to about 262,700 jobs. Demand for management skills will be driven by an ongoing trend towards consolidation of small farms into large farms held by absentee owners, reported the BLS. reported that as of November 2011, most farm managers earned between $20,567 and $76,378 annually.

Step 4: Stay Abreast of Developments

Technology, cultivation practices, government agricultural policy and farm commodity markets constantly evolve. Staying on top of these issues is usually necessary for farm managers. You can enroll in continuing education management courses and seminars offered by the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA). Course subjects include land management, valuation of intangible assets, property risk assessment and conservation policy.

Step 5: Consider Certification

You can raise your professional standing by obtaining the Accredited Farm Manager (AFM) credential from ASFMRA. To be eligible for the AFM exam you need to complete four ASFMRA agriculture land management courses, hold at least a bachelor’s degree, have four years of farm management experience and submit a sample farm management plan. You also have to be a member of ASFMRA. The AFM exam tests your knowledge of farm planning, market planning and agricultural tax policy.

Want to learn more about a career in agriculture? Please add your questions and comments below.

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