How Much Do Farmers Make? | Introducing the Farming Income

Farmers are some of the most hardworking people in the world. They do their job under some of the harshest conditions and still manage to provide us with the fruits and vegetables we enjoy year-round. Of course, their income varies just as their working hours vary. Are you curious how much do farmers make on average?

There seem to be four different farming income statistics to answer the question of how much farmers make.

  • Small farming operations across America may make so little income that they are forced to seek alternative full-time employment to feed their family and pay the bills. These farmers realize about $20,000 annually.
  • It is possible for a city-dwelling farmer working a small plot of land to make an annual income above $100,000 annually.
  • Larger corporation farms can realize profits of at least $200,000 annually.
  • Factory farmers can become wealthy and realize incomes in the millions of dollars but must pay a high price for wealth.  

Rich Farmers vs. Poor and Struggling Farmers

Over 50,000 working farms across America are wealthy and successful multi-million dollar farms. However, this represents a tiny percentage of American farmers.

Most other farmers operate smaller farms and struggle daily to make ends meet. The difference in income between the four types of farmers is significant. 

Is a lot at stake for farmers to make enough money to pay their bills and afford to buy some of the better things in life? The majority of farmers do not jump into farming as a get-rich scheme. 

Farmers who make millions of dollars annually may pay a considerable price for their wealth.

  • Not all farmers think about farming in the same way. 
  • Some farmers look at farming as a way of life versus a job. 
  • Some look at agriculture as an income and not a way of life. 
  • Some farmers may or may not consider agriculture an investment or a business venture. 

You may be under the assumption that farmers have fallen on tough times. This may be an accurate assumption for some of the smaller farm operations. However, there are many more significant farming operations whose income is multi-million dollars yearly. 

These more significant farming operations supply the majority of America’s food chain. However, these large corporate farming operations are also in the minority of farming operations.

While 50,000 successfully wealthy farms across the United States may seem like many farms, it is a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands of smaller working farms that are not so fortunate. These smaller farms struggle every day to make ends meet.

Whether a farmer operates multi-million dollar farms or smaller, struggling farms, all types of farms fight the same battles. 

  • Weather conditions
  • Economic conditions and rising economy
  • Climate change
  • Soil erosion
  • Customer expectations
  • Increasing farm productivity
  • To learn and invest in new technologies
  • Fight global economics

Farming is an important business that citizens of the United States depend on for survival. Were it not for the hard work of the American Farmer, America would starve.

Large farming operations can make at least a quarter of a million dollars annually to well over one million dollars. These large farms represent barely ten percent of all American farms.

Yet, this small percentage of more significant farming operations supplies nearly 85 percent of America’s food supplies. There are three times smaller farm operations than larger farm operations. This difference is the deciding factor on how much farmers make.

These farm families earn well over $150,000 annual household income. These larger farming operations have the means to supply food companies such as Tyson’s. 

For example, a large farm has more land, thus bigger crops, and larger herds than a small farm. A small farm down the road has ten dairy cows. A large farm will make ten times more money from dairy products than a small farm.

The farm size makes a big difference and does not necessarily cost any more money to operate. It only stands to reason that more farmland brings in more profits. 

The Advantages of Larger Farms Over Smaller Farms?

how much do farmers make

  • More significant farming operations take advantage of their size.
  • Larger farms can afford advanced technologies.
  • Advantages are taken due to the commodity boom.
  • Larger farms have hundreds of cows, pigs, and crops.
  • A larger farm with a higher output is more apt to receive subsidiaries from the federal government. 
  • Large farming operations have excess money to purchase new and advanced farming technologies. However, smaller farms cannot afford these perks. 
  • Larger farms now use GPS-guided tractors that are self-driven.
  • Larger farms can afford computer programs that can monitor the health of livestock.
  • Larger farms can afford to put into place strategies for future uncertainties. 
  • Larger farms must invest more money into feeding herds.
  • Larger farms must spend more money on gas to drive farm animals. 
  • Smaller farmers must take an outside job because the income from a small farm averages about $8,000 to $10,000 per year, which is not enough money to run a farm, let alone household income. 

Many odds are present against the small operation farmer, including a less attractive income. Nevertheless, these dedicated farmers continue to trek onward because they love to farm.

The love of farming for many is attractive enough for these dedicated farmers to keep going. These small farmers know they are not making a tremendous income like the big farms.

This does not seem to matter how much farmers make when a farmer is not farming to become wealthy.

  • These smaller farmers are not interested in high-priced farm equipment, such as tractors with G.P.S.
  • These farmers say they do not need big and fancy farm pickup trucks. If their 20-year-old truck runs well and serves them well, that is all they need.  

Earning Capacity of the American Farmers

Small and Large Farms

Most farmers say they make enough yearly income to give their families a decent income. However, many specifics are involved in determining what type of income the American farmer can earn. These specifics are as follows.

  • Consider the type of farm the farmer has?
  • How much land does the farmer have?
  • What are the products that the farm produces?
  • The amount of money the farmer makes per acre differs widely.
  • It depends on what the farmer is raising. Some products are in more need than other products. Are the products in demand?

The small farmer or rural farmer makes a bit over $20,000 upwards of $36,000 annually. Small rural farmers realize lower living expenses than other families. Most small farmers agree that while farming does provide them with a decent lifestyle, it does not offer the following:

  • Security in old-age
  • Little chance to save money
  • Little opportunity to enjoy a yearly vacation
  • It does not provide enough money for investing
  • Little cash for updated farm equipment
  • Considerations regarding how humane farm animals are raised can cost more, affecting overall income.

Most rural farmers and their families consider their farm life a way of life versus treating their farm as a business. Nearly nine out of ten all small farmers consider their farm as simply a way of life. These farms contribute to about 20% of all farms throughout the United States.

Farming is Possible Anywhere, Rural or City

All small farms throughout the United States amount to about four in 100. These farmers produce far fewer products.

However, these farmers likely have more natural and organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs as this demand increases. Consumers want to eat healthier. These rural or city farmers, 

  • Do not require a lot of acres
  • Can farm using higher ethics
  • Is environmentally friendly
  • Can make upwards of $100,000 annually

Researchers admit that these small farmers who put their knowledge to work, invest a bit of money, and find a high-demand product could realize an income surpassing one million dollars annually. This puts these types of farmers in significant demand.

To realize this exuberant income is a dream come true for the small farmer. All farmers must invest money to become successful farmers. These farmers must be exact in their business plan and, 

  • Know how to do market research before choosing a product.
  • Know the consumer demand for the product.
  • Have precise planning abilities.
  • Be extremely organized.
  • Have advanced knowledge of the product and supply chain.
  • Be willing to work extremely hard.
  • Be ready to hire one or two highly trusted people with the same focus.
  • Have a sense of excellent business ethics.
  • Be prepared to harvest.
  • Design an attractive logo, brand, and packaging.

Industrial Farming on a Large Scale

These farmers own thousands and thousands of acres of land worth millions of dollars. Calculations say that about two out of 100 claims to farm to this extent. These farms provide our food industry with over one-half of all fresh produce in America. The difference between these farms and other farms are as follows:

  • Use lots of chemicals
  • Utilize lots of fertilizers
  • Have planned systems of irrigation costing millions of dollars
  • Expensive and advanced machines are necessary
  • High technology
  • Knowledgeable staff to maintain crops

These high-tech farmers make significant amounts of money on every acre they farm. These income calculations per acre could be $350.00 up to $700.00. Expenses are not figured into this amount of money. These farmers then make as little as $50.00 and as high as $200.00 per acre. 

This is enough profit to make the farmer wealthy.

Due to the size of these crops, farmers generally buy insurance if the crop fails. These farmers can see an annual income of $50,000 to over $200,000 annually. These farmers purchase insurance on their crops, which guarantees this income if crops fail. These farmers must:

  • Have significant knowledge of finance.
  • Have a considerable amount of money to buy the technology needed for crops of this size.
  • Have significant land space.
  • Be willing to take a risk.
  • Must be wealthy.
  • Must be highly educated.

It is not uncommon for large global corporations to lease land to landowners for the long term. These corporations may keep up to 70 percent of all profits. That farmer can become exceedingly wealthy through corporation farming.

Farm Owners and Factories

How Much Do Farmers Make

The products that these factories produce are eggs, dairy, and meat. These factories are well-known as being grossly overcrowded and harbor unsanitary. The animals in this environment suffer from the expenses farmers must pay for an eye-popping annual income. Some farmers close their eyes to these conditions due to their earning possibilities.

These factories are unethical and are powered by greedy people. However, they make billions of dollars annually. Factory farming can damage the traditional farmer. These corporations can run the farmer out of business because they will like you. These factories can make a farmer crazy rich. These farmers have always had a choice.

Devote farmers can speak out against these unethical and inhumane practices, choose to remain silent, disregard their deep moral ethics, and earn more than $300,000 annually.

  • These farmers must weigh their morals against losing their livelihood. 
  • These are the small farmers of America who are struggling to feed their families and pay their bills.
  • Factory farmers produce nearly 99 percent of the eggs, dairy, and meat produced in the United States. 
  • Four out of 100 farmers opt for factory farming. 

FAQs About Farming Incomes

A farmer can work in a variety of roles. He or she might grow crops for human or livestock consumption, such as grains, vegetables and fruits. In addition to growing crops or separately from that, the farmer could also raise livestock such as pigs, poultry or dairy cows; with this focus, his or her duties would include feeding, disease prevention and tracking.
If you have a dream of becoming a farmer, you don't necessarily need to go to college to learn how to work the land. In many cases, farms are passed down from one generation to the next and children learn how to farm from their parents.
As a farmer, you may need to rely on outside income sources to supplement your farm-related earnings. Additionally, you should keep in mind that factors such as weather, consumer demand and government subsidies can have a significant impact on your revenue.


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