2020 Farm Employee Compensation Benchmark Survey

Cornell University

Open to all agricultural commodities

Cornell Agricultural Workforce Development is conducting a 2020 Farm Employee Compensation Benchmark survey of all agricultural commodities to help farmers evaluate and offer competitive compensation packages to maintain high quality employee teams. Participants will receive aggregate and anonymous reports customized by farm type (dairy, fruit, vegetable, greenhouse, etc.) and be invited to a webinar discussion of the findings.

While pay is not the most important factor to retain and motivate employees, it does matter, and it can be difficult to find accurate and up-to-date information about employee compensation. If the compensation offered is not enough compared to other employers, then you’ll struggle to attract employees, and will have a revolving door of employees leaving for better opportunities. On the other hand, it’s good to know what others are paying to keep costs in line. This year’s survey will focus on key positions within agricultural industries, including herds persons, crop managers, and crew leaders.

The survey process is easy and only takes about 10 minutes per employee to enter:

  1. Select one or more employees who worked for you in 2020.
  2. Gather your data about the regular and overtime hours they worked and how much pay they earned in 2020. Most farms will have this readily available in payroll records.
  3. Gather your data about the non-wage benefits they received and how much the employer paid for them. Include items such as the employer-paid portion of insurances and retirement, value of any paid time off, estimated market value of any provided housing, and other items such as provided food or clothing.
  4. Enter the data you collected along with other simple, descriptive information about the employee’s position in the 2020 Farm Employee Compensation Benchmark.
  5. Repeat steps 1 to 4 to enter data about another employee.

Farms with more complex workforces should enter multiple employees. Choose a few representative frontline employees, plus any middle managers, or even more senior managers in the business. Participation is free and farmers who provide at least one usable employee entry will receive a report of the results and an invitation to attend a webinar discussion of the findings. All information entered will be kept confidential. Only aggregate data, with no way to identify farms or individuals, will be published or shared.

For questions, contact Lucas Smith by email at ls678@cornell.edu or Richard Stup, Cornell Agricultural Workforce Specialist, at rstup@cornell.edu.

Cornell Agricultural Workforce Development’s mission is to help farms and agribusinesses build committed and effective teams who will carry out the important work of feeding the world. We believe that agricultural work can, and should be, engaging and rewarding for everyone involved. Managers can build committed teams by applying the best human resource management practices for the agricultural setting. Key program goals include:

  • Provide leadership and management development education focused on farm supervisors, middle managers, and owners
  • Clarify workforce regulations that apply to farms and increasing levels of compliance
  • Build consistent channels of communication and learning opportunities about agricultural workforce issues
  • Conduct research into workforce problems and challenges that confront agriculture



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