Farm Jobs on the Decline

Despite a major farm boom that has boosted farm revenue and increased profits, farm jobs are on the decline nationwide.

For the past several years, farmers have been experiencing a prolonged economic boom. With ethanol production increasing, demand for US corn and livestock feed on the rise, and with farm exports booming, farmers are enjoying record-breaking profits.

While Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has been promoting US agriculture as a vital part of the American economy and a major US job creator, recent statistics from the US Department of Agriculture and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest that the number of farm jobs is on the decline and will continue to shrink throughout the next seven years.

Over the course of the decade, an estimated 96,000 jobs, out of 1.2 million, will be eliminated. Overall farm employment is predicted to drop by about 2.3 percent.

The decrease is being blamed on more sophisticated production methods and increased farm technology. “Capital being spent to purchase farm equipment and chemicals is reducing labor costs,” said Iowa State University economist Mike Duffy. “When you’re able to save on labor, you don’t need as many people. We’re seeing some moves to try and counterbalance that with local niche farm marketing, but for the most part the larger farm operations continue to get bigger. They’re not getting larger because they’re more efficient, but rather because they can in today’s farm economy.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer