As an agricultural manager, you will be responsible for the oversight of crops, animals and various other related products that may be sold either to consumers or businesses. Agricultural managers may be in charge of the daily operations of commercial agriculture facilities, such as greenhouses and large farms. Managers of larger farms will usually focus their time on the business aspects of the facility, but those who are working at smaller sites may be involved in such matters as planning which cros to plant to increase profits and creating annual budgets. Some managers of smaller organizations may hire and supervise workers and ensure that equipment is effectively maintained.
Some agricultural managers may also be employed by major agribusiness companies such as Tyson Food, Cargill, BRF, JBS and more.
What Is Agriculture Management?
Agricultural management involves the supervision and implementation of many related activities at nurseries, farms, greenhouses and other agricultural-related facilities and properties. Agricultural management is very important for the proper management of the food supply of the US. Such managers are responsible for the planning and coordination of the aforementioned agricultural production sites. In larger scale cases, agricultural management professionals may train and hire farmers to raise crops.
Effective agricultural management involves the oversight of all farms and related facilities that produce various types of crops. Some of the duties in agricultural management are to plan, supervise and even participate in the planting, fertilization and harvesting processes. Managers can be responsible for hiring, training and managing workers on farms by ensuring that they have been fully prepared for their roles. It also is part of this profession to choose the right equipment and supplies that are required to support the farm.
Agricultural management requires spending a high amount of hours in various farm environments, so most professionals in this role will spend their day outside. Some of the other duties of agricultural managers also include:
- Being a subject matter expert on various agricultural markets in the US
- Learn how to utilize strategic sourcing to drive more effective processes and strategies in agricultural settings
- Develop the most effective and robust supplier diversity possible
- Manage and coordinate the entire gamut of agricultural production at the site
- Be able to view agriculture with a holistic mindset but also have an eye on the bottom line
- Be able to communicate major findings to the public, stakeholders and colleagues
- Enforce state and federal regulations that relate to effective agricultural management and development
- Have a wide base of knowledge in agriculture, including, soil science, crops, crop physiology, predictive modeling and more
- Oversee all parts of agricultural production, including pruning, irrigation, fertilizing, ground maintenance, harvesting, storage and logistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS reports that there were one million agricultural managers in 2016. These included farmers, ranchers and related workers. BLS also noted that these workers were employed in these industries:
- Self employed: 73%
- Crop production: 16%
- Animal production and aquaculture: 10%
Agricultural managers usually work a lot during the planting and harvesting seasons – well more than 40 hours per week. During other times for the year, they will possibly work less as they plan the crops for next season and repair machinery. But for agricultural managers who manage livestock, the work is mostly year round.
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BLS anticipates that there will be 7% job growth in agricultural management through 2026, which is faster than average. It is expected that owners of big lots of land will look for the skills and expertise of these managers to efficiently manage their farms and ranches. It is also thought that there will be an overall decline in the number of acres that are being farmed. But output from the remaining farms will stay steady as technology is leading to better crop yields. Also, the higher demand for dairy and meat products will stay high as the economy improves.
BLS reports that the median salary for agricultural managers was $66,300 in 2016. The top 10% earned a median salary of $126,000. However, note that the incomes for these professionals can vary considerably; farm product prices from crops to livestock vary widely in price. Weather conditions also have a major effect on yields from year to year. However, some farms may receive state and federal government subsidies to increase their income. These subsidies are offered to lower the risk of farming.
How much money you make somewhat depends upon the location in which you are farming or ranching. Based upon recent research, these five states offer some of the best opportunities for new farmers in terms of economic output and profits:
- Vermont: This is a small state but it boasts 245 farmers’ markets for only 626,000 people. Farmland does cost more here than average at $2800 per acre, but the opportunity for good profits is high as well.
- Nebraska: There are 111 farmers’ markets in the Cornhusker State, and it also ranks in the top 20 in the US for access to foods that are farm fresh. Also, there are various tax credit programs for new farmers that make getting started easier.
- California: A temperate climate and growing conditions that allow many types of agriculture and livestock make this a good state to make money in farming. Land is expensive at $7300 per acre, but there still are 80,500 farms across the state.
- New York: This is a very popular state for new farmers; there are 700 urban farms in the New York City area and seven million acres of farmland spread across the state. There also is a big movement toward sustainable farming.
With an agriculture management degree, you can work for either yourself or some of these top agricultural employers:
- Archer Daniels Midland
- Alico Incorporated
- Albert Wheat Pool
- Agria Corp
- Adler Seeds
A typical bachelor’s degree in agricultural management stresses applying the principles of management and science to various production operations in agriculture. Common courses include animal science, agricultural systems, plant biology, principles of plant biology, agribusiness economics, agricultural system and education and plant/soil science. Some of the common job titles for graduates may include loan officer, sales manager, marketing coordinator, pricing analyst or production supervisor.
A master’s program in agricultural management is a good fit if you want to study agriculture, business, management, economics and marketing. It is an advanced degree that is intended to provide you with the skills to lead in the farming and ranching industry, as well as agricultural companies. This degree program is a smart choice for managers in agriculture today because there are multiple challenges to manage animals, land and natural resources n a way that will boost both profit and sustainability.
To be considered for a master’s program in this field, expect to need to have three letters of recommendation, a complete resume, transcripts, a 2.75 GPA or higher, and a strong statement of purpose. Some schools may require GRE scores but many today do not.
Each university will have a unique agriculture management curriculum. It is important to ensure that the school and program that you choose is properly accredited. At Colorado State University, the curriculum for their master’s in agricultural management includes these courses:
- Integrated Decision Making/Management Skills
- Building the Business
- Managing for Ecosystem Sustainability
- Understanding and Managing Animal Resources
- Animal Production Systems
- Integrated Forage Management
- Analyzing and Managing the Business
- Understanding Policy and Emerging Issues
- Products to Profit
- The Integrated Resource Management Plan
Whatever your area of interest in the agricultural sciences, you can often find a specialty that speaks to you. At some universities, such as Texas A&M University, for example, you have the option to select the specialties below in their bachelor’s program in agriculture:
- Agricultural economics: Learn about agriculture, food, resource economics and management. This is a good choice for those who want to start an agricultural business, work in bank and lending or food marketing and trading.
- Horticulture: A popular speciality for professionals who are interested in working at the intersection of agriculture and fields such as business, education, art and design.
- Agricultural systems management: Learn how to manage money, people and machines in the agricultural industry.
- Biological and agricultural engineering: Apply your knowledge of biological and business science as well as engineering and mathematics to enhance the production and processing of food.
- Plant and environmental soil science: This involves the study of plants, water, soils and air, and how they interact with the environment.
- Rangeland ecology and management: Study the relationships between water, soil, and plants, and show they all affect sustainable and money making land management.
- Renewable natural resources: Focuses on natural resources, ecology, recreation, water and wildlife.
- Animal science: You will be equipped to understand animal breeding and the field of genetics; also dairy, meat science and animal nutrition.
- Agricultural science: Select courses from animal science, agricultural systems, plant and soil science and agricultural economics. This is a solid option for those who wish to teach in the field of agricultural science.
Students who want to have financial assistance to earn their agricultural management degree have many tempting options to consider. Below are some grants and scholarships that are available in agricultural management and similar degree programs:
- ABC Humane Wildlife Control and Prevention Academic Scholarship: $1000
- AACE International Competitive Scholarship: $2500
- Boren Scholarship: $20,000
- Bradford-Sullivan Forest Landowners’ Association Scholarship: $1000
- Bill Kirk Scholarship Endowment: $1000
- Clair A. Hill Scholarship: $5000
- Dean Foods Company Scholarship: $1000
- Harvest Land Scholarship Program: $1000
- HENAAC Scholars Program: $10,000
- Loren and Becky Roslund Scholarship: $800
- MetLife Foundation Scholarship: $2000
- National GEM Consortium Fellowship: $16,000
- NCGA William C. Berg Academic Excellence in Agriculture Scholarship: $1000
- NDS DMI Education and Communications Scholarship: $1500
Many of these scholarships will require that you have a desire to work in the field of agriculture or a related field. Some of these programs also may be based upon minority status or financial need, or both.
Agricultural managers and professionals who wish to further their career may consider earning their Accredited Farm Manager (AFM) certifications. Accredited farm managers offer a high level of management services to farm owners to assist them in optimizing their financial returns from a large financial investment. These professionals use their high level of knowledge of people, livestock, crops, financial analysis, accounting and soil conservation to assist clients to improve the value of their farm.
An AFM has shown that he or she has the experience, skills and education to offer valid land investment analysis and management of the daily operations for large agricultural enterprises. This credential is only offered through the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA).
To qualify for this credential, you must meet the following qualifications:
- Possess a four year college degree in an agriculture-related field
- Four years of experience in farm and/or ranch management
- ASFMRA membership
- Submit a farm management plan
- Complete courses in ag land management and business ethics, for a total of 85 credit hours.
Students who are interested in a thriving career in agriculture management may consider joining the associations below. These groups may offer you many opportunities to network and attain more education, which can be beneficial to your career:
- American Farm Bureau Federation
- National Commodity and Agricultural Organization Sites
- National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
- Agricultural Retailers Association
- National Farmers Union
- National Agricultural Library
- National Association of Agricultural Educators
The agricultural management field offers a variety of enticing job possibilities, depending upon your interest. With at least a bachelor’s and possibly a master’s degree, it is possible to become a highly compensated agricultural manager for many large and small farms, ranches or major agribusiness companies.
- Farmers, Ranchers and Other Agricultural Managers. (2015, Dec. 18). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/farmers-ranchers-and-other-agricultural-managers.htm
- Texas A&M University. Undergraduate Agricultural Majors. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://aglifesciences.tamu.edu/academics/undergraduate/majors/
- Colorado State University. Master’s in Agricultural Management. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.online.colostate.edu/degrees/irm/admission.dot