It helps that farm workers be knowledgeable of basic farming techniques as well as modern developments in agriculture and often this knowledge can only be obtained by having grown up in a farm or, if not, through formal education. As we enter the 21st century farming operations have also become more complex and a lot of modern farms now have computers which they use for keeping financial records and inventories. These modern farms also utilize computer databases or spreadsheets in managing farm operations.
Nearly 80 percent of farmers and ranchers are self-employed, the remaining are employed farm managers and most of these oversee agricultural lands but some manage livestock and dairy farms. The tasks performed by farm managers are determined by the type of farm they are working on. The climate, the topography, and soil type and quality determine the type of farming done in a place. In terms of output the leading agricultural states are California, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and, Texas, while the states with the most number of farms are Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. In crop farms which grow cotton, fruit, grain, and vegetables the farmers are responsible in cultivating, fertilizing, harvesting, preparing, planting, spraying, and tilling. After harvesting they see to it that the crop is properly stored and marketed. Ranchers including dairy farmers, poultry and livestock, raise animals and keep farm buildings clean and in good condition. They oversee animal breeding and marketing. In smaller farms the operators themselves perform all of the tasks. Operators of large farms on the other hand hire employees especially for menial work. Some big farms employ 100 or more workers, both full-time and part-time and may also include non-farm workers such as bookkeepers, computer specialists, sales reps, and truck drivers.
Farms jobs these days require some knowledge in modern farming techniques as well as making complex business, financial, and scientific decisions and this is gained through postsecondary education which is important even for farm raised individuals. Some say that the best training for farmers is by being raised in a farm, however, completion of a 2 year associate or 4 year bachelor’s degrees is increasing in importance. Aspiring new agricultural managers, farmers and ranchers sometimes choose to work under experienced farmers and observe how to correctly apply in real world situations the knowledge gained from formal training. Those who choose not to go thru this process often take years to learn the correct methods of farming. Farm managers, farmers and ranchers also need managerial skills in organizing and operating a farm; knowledge in accounting and bookkeeping are needed in keeping and maintaining financial records; knowledge of credit sources is essential in buying fertilizer, seeds and other necessities; familiarity with government requirements for support programs and safety regulations is vital; and the necessity for knowledge in the use of computers and office software is also growing especially in large farms which increasingly use them for keeping records and business analysis. Most useful is the ability to work with all kinds of tools to be able to maintain and repair farm machines and structures.
Employment outlook for farms jobs as farmers and ranchers is on the negative as it is expected to decline by 8 percent during 2008 to 2018 mainly because of increased productivity and farm consolidation as small and unproductive farms become part of bigger and more sustainable ones; however, the number of employed farm/agricultural managers is expected to increase by 6 percent as owners of large farms often live far from their property resulting in increased demand for farm managers to run the farms. The best opportunities for entering farms careers are in small scale local farms practicing horticulture or organic farming.
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