Whole Farm > Human Resources > Employee Labor & Management

New survey on farm employee compensation

AgDM Newsletter
March 2012

Over 20,000 people make their living each year as full-time employees on Iowa farms. Iowa State University and the North Central Risk Management Education Center recently conducted a survey to study the wages and benefits they receive. The average compensation paid to these employees in 2011 was $38,929 per year, before deductions for taxes. Cash wages accounted for $33,320, or 85 percent of this total. In addition, the average employee received fringe benefits valued at $4,185 and cash bonuses of $1,424.

In a similar survey conducted in 2006 the average farm employee received $34,640 in total compensation. The change represents an average annual increase of about 2.1 percent. Employees worked an average of 2,602 hours in 2011, so on an hourly basis cash wages averaged $12.96 and total compensation averaged $15.05.  The average employee had 12 years of experience working on a farm, seven of which were with the present employer. Six percent of the employees included in the survey were female, and 16 percent were born outside the United States.

The most significant benefit provided was some type of insurance plan, usually medical. Other common benefits included housing, meals, farm produce, work clothing and recreational opportunities.

Factors such as farm size, employee duties, number of other employees supervised, education and years of farm experience had a major influence on how much each employee was paid. For more details about the farm employee compensation survey see the information file link.


William Edwards, retired economist. Questions?