Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Farm wages: Your opinion

I wrote an entry about a farm hand, and I noticed that the majority of the comments talk about what they're paid. 

What's a fair wage for a farmhand? 

Here's where I'm going:  The unemployment rate for teenagers (17,18.19) in my county is close to 30%.  The minimum wage around here is somewhere north of $8, closer to $9/hour.  I don't know what it is because I don't pay the minimum wage. 

What are the wages like in your area?  Have you hired anyone?  Are you employed on a farm? 

8 comments:

wobbly.com said...

In France it is 9 Euros an hour, but then you pay another chunk to the government for health care and a few other things so it ends up costing about 14 Euros an hour out of pocket.

A lot of farm workers are on the 'black', especially for the seasonal work of the local wineries.

Frank said...

When young, during breaks from studying, I worked at farms for something just above minimum wage + all the milk, eggs my parents and rest of family could consume. I did bring the occasionally box of meat home as well.

Craig said...

In Southeastern New York, generally teenagers will be paid around $10 per hour doing work on farms.Pay on dairy farms is generally dependent on does the employer provide housing or not.My experience with farm labor is that your better workers who stay are going to want a house/trailer and some kind of health package.

sheila said...

The real problem is there are few people left that grew up on a farm. It takes a farming background to have the knowledge base and farm work ethic to be a good farm worker. Non farmers think farming sounds like a nice day in the county, until they actually deal with the dirt, manure, heat, sun (sun burn), rain, freezing weather, flies, sweat and just plain hard manual labor required. For the average American I doubt there is enough money to get them to do this type of work.

Little Seed Farm said...

Interesting article in the recent SGF talking about linking pay to equity in New Zealand. Maybe you should try something similar and properly align incentives. Pay minimum wage plus a bonus that is tied to sales or profitability or some other performance metric. Equity/bonus could be tiered to increase over time, thus encouraging a longer term focus. If the employee is obviously short-term in nature then it could be tied to sales/profitability over a summer or a specific number of months. Incentives drive action, just look at Wall St and the Government. Short term incentives lead to short term performance and longer term problems.

Jason said...

A fair wage is the amount that a qualified person is willing to work for, given the level of unemployment in the region. Wages rise and fall with the unemployment rate. Pay too little, and you'll get unqualified workers. Pay too much, and you have a lower rate of return for the investment.

I never understood the argument that one should pay a "livable wage" - a person should make what the job is worth. Nevertheless, Penn State University has a livable wage calculator here:

http://www.livingwage.geog.psu.edu/counties/53061

Patty said...

I'm in Northern Alberta farm/oil/gas country. In my farming community, hands are paid $15.00/hour, kids or adults unless they are skilled on a particular type of equipment (combine, swather, etc., in which case it's up to $20/hr or more). Even Tim Horton's pays $17/hr for part time help, but this is directly attributable to the ridiculous wages paid to kids by the oil industry. Hard to convince a kid to stay in school or work on the farm for $15/hr when they can get $25/hr as a "rig pig" with no experience. Patty

Urbancowgrrl said...

I have never worked on a farm and I have no idea what the going rate is, but I know that the going rate to muck stalls in a barn is $10 an hour. Of course, that doesn't take any skill and driving a tractor at least takes a little skill (as shown by your previous post). So, I'd say depending on the skill set needed $10-$15 an hour plus extras like eggs, meat, produce now and then sent home - little perks like that. Especially at entry level where they are learning a skill on the job I'd say closer to $10 because it's like on-the-job-training.

I think that people say farm hands aren't paid enough because the idea of physical labor is horrifying to so many Americans now days. And getting dirty. You would not believe how many of my friends (outside of my circle of horse-obsessed friends) refuse to go to the stables to meet my horses because it's dirty and smelly and either going to be too cold or too hot out. Not to mention they don't have the right shoes.

Keep in mind many jobs pay high wages per hour because of the extensive college education the employees had to pay for before working. Jobs where you are basically apprenticing (like the farm hands you hire) pay less because they are also learning a lot of skills.