Farmers and farm managers raise crops and livestock for market.
Farmers' duties vary by the type and the size of the farm or ranch.
Crop farmers plan, plant, cultivate, spray, and harvest. They analyze their soil and fertilize it so that it produces better plants. They store, load, transport, and market their crops. They also set up, inspect, and maintain farm equipment.
On livestock, dairy, and poultry farms, farmers plan, feed, and care for animals. They also may oversee breeding. Modern farmers raise many different kinds of stock. For example, farmers may raise earthworms, shellfish, or bees.
On small farms, farmers do most of the work themselves. Workers may include the farmer and one or two family members or hired employees. On large farms, farmers hire employees to help with the physical work. The largest ones may have 100 or more full-time and seasonal workers. Owners of these large farms may hire farm managers. Farm managers supervise and direct farm and ranch workers. These workers may oversee most activities or focus on a single activity, such as harvesting.
Both farmers and farm managers make managerial decisions. They decide which crops to plant or animals to raise, and what type of equipment and supplies to purchase. They must think about weather predictions, disease outbreaks that could make their plants or animals sick, farm product prices, and federal farm programs. They must also adjust irrigation systems to use water efficiently, and make sure that buildings and equipment are clean and repaired.
Farmers and farm managers look for new ways to improve their yield for less money. For example, they may use a new pest control method that increases their output because it reduces damage from bugs.
To start new ventures, farmers and farm managers negotiate and secure loans from banks. They must keep good records of their costs and their production. They also must understand federal and state regulations that apply to farming and to selling products.