Employment of farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers is expected to decline moderately by eight percent from 2010 to 2020.
The continuing ability of the agricultural sector to produce more with fewer workers will cause some farmers to go out of business.
As land, machinery, seed, and chemicals become more expensive, only well-capitalized farmers and corporations will be able to buy many of the farms that become available. These larger, more productive farms are better able to withstand the adverse effects of climate and price fluctuations on farm output and income.
Still, several new programs in the Farm Bill, ones designed to help beginning farmers and ranchers acquire land and operating capital, may offset these market pressures.
In contrast, agricultural managers should have more opportunities. Owners of large tracts of land, who often do not live on the property they own, increasingly will seek the expertise of agricultural managers to run their farms and ranches as businesses.
Despite the expected continued consolidation of farmland and the projected decline in overall employment of this occupation, an increasing number of small-scale farmers have developed successful market niches that involve personalized, direct contact with their customers. Many are finding opportunities in horticulture and organic food production, which are among the fastest growing segments of agriculture. Others use farmer's markets that cater directly to urban and suburban consumers, allowing the farmers to capture a greater share of consumers' food dollars.
Some small-scale farmers belong to collectively owned marketing cooperatives that process and sell their products. Other farmers participate in community-supported agriculture cooperatives that allow consumers to buy a share of the farmer's harvest directly.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition