Farmers' annual incomes can vary greatly from year to year, depending on changes in the value of the crops they are producing, the weather and the success of a given year's crop. The unpredictable swings in income are one of numerous factors that can make farming a difficult professional. Pressures on individual farmers are leading fewer people to take up farming as an occupation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Farmers' Annual Income
The average net cash farm business income from households that operated farms was £10,141 in 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, that figure does not reflect the government subsidies that many farm families receive to reduce the risk of farming. It also does not include income from work that many families do off the farm, which can substantially increase their actual earned income.
The USDA forecast that farm households' average total income would be £55,341 in 2009, a decline of 2 per cent from 2008, amid an economic recession. The decline followed a modest gain in farm household income of 0.7 per cent in 2008 and large rise of 6.1 per cent in 2007.
The number of self-employed farmers is likely to decline by about 8 per cent to 969,000 in the United States by 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It forecast that the farming industry will continue consolidating into a smaller number of larger farms that are better capitalised and better able to afford machinery, seed and chemicals. These larger farms will be able to produce more crops with fewer people and better able to withstand bad weather and fluctuations in crop prices, the bureau said. Competition from these larger farms most likely will drive smaller, marginally profitable farms out of business.
While there may be fewer individual farm owners, the consolidation of the industry is likely to create demand for professional farm managers, who can run farms for their corporate owners. The number of farm managers is forecast by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to rise 1 per cent to 261,000 by 2016. As of May 2008, the average farm manager earned £40,560 a year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated.
Occupations related to farming include agricultural engineers, who make an estimated median annual salary of £42,919; food scientists, who made an estimated average of £34,976; and farm workers, who made an estimated average of £5.90 an hour in 2006.