2019 Ag Labor Study

( Lindsey Benne )

What are farmers’ biggest labor challenges? Finding qualified workers tops the list, according to a 2019 Farm Journal survey of 2,100 farmers and ranchers.

“We hear employers talking about that they can’t find good, qualified employees,” says Rob Russell, University of Missouri Extension director of labor and workforce development. “But we also hear employees saying they can’t find a good job.”

Russell says these workforce transitions are occurring:

  • Generational change: Employees in different age categories hold various expectations and desires for their jobs. They also have unique skill sets. 
  • Population change: As people move from rural to urban areas, the composition an area’s labor pool realigns. 
  • Technological change: Automation and technology are changing job expectations and the skills needed. For instance, Russell says, 85% of the jobs needed in 2030 don’t exist yet.
  • Global competition: Today’s connected world makes it easier for in-demand skills and employees to be recruited across states and countries. 

How does labor affect different sectors of the industry? Take a look through the coverage below. 

Farm Journal Ag Labor Survey

No paid time off and no health insurance is the norm for livestock employees. 

While commodity prices, regulations and trade issues make headlines, ag labor remains a broad area of concern for American farmers and ranchers. Finding qualified workers tops the list of those labor concerns, according to a 2019 Farm Journal survey of 2,100 farmers and ranchers.

In December, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, legislation that has strong backing from most agricultural groups, but is opposed by the American Farm Bureau Federation and some conservative groups. Read more here.

Don't Complicate the Labor Crisis: Take Care of People

Make your barn an irresistible place to work.

The labor crisis facing agriculture is complicated, but experts say the solution doesn’t have to be. Could developing a team that’s in it for the long haul be more about creating a great work culture and less about implementing more benefits and higher wages?

“Oftentimes I see our industry race to the more tactical efforts (pay, benefits, hours, welcome kits) and miss some obvious cultural approaches that make a big difference.  It’s about doing a lot of things right,” says Jen Sorenson, Iowa Select Farms communication director and National Pork Producers Council vice president. Read more here. 

Dairy Report: Dairy Farmers Pay Employees More Than Ever Before

A recent survey from Farm Journal found employees across the agriculture industry continue to struggle to find and keep employees.

The study found dairy producers are paying more now than they ever have before. 

The survey included more than 2,000 farmers, of which 160 were dairy producers. Of the surveyed dairy farmers, 87% of them a more than they did five years ago. In fact, one responded said an increase in mandatory pay and overtime regulations will force them to sell his farm. Read more here.

Farm Journal Study Finds Dairy Farmers Face Labor Challenges

We recently conducted a labor study across all sectors of agriculture. What we found will probably not come as a surprise to any of our readers. Farmers are paying employees more than they’ve ever paid. They are more efficient with their labor than they’ve ever been, and yet they’re frustrated. Read more.