USDA: Farm worker wages follow crop, livestock operation income trends

Strong crop prices translated into higher U.S. farm worker wages this fall, but tight margins in livestock-related operations kept the lid on wage increases for workers employed in those areas, based on the November quarterly USDA National Ag Statistics Service Farm Labor report.

U.S. farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage of $11.76/hour during the October  7-13, 2012 reference week, up more than 5% from the year before. 

• Field workers received an average of $11.22/hour in October 2012, up nearly 5% from July and more than 6% more than October 2011. 

• Livestock workers earned $10.83/hour, down 6¢ from July (0.5%), and up just 1.5% from October 2011.

• The October 2012 field and livestock worker combined wage rate, at $11.13/hour, was up 3.5% from July and more than 5% more than October 2011.

Wage rates are calculated based on total wages and hours worked during the survey week. Benefits, such as cash bonuses, housing or meals, are not included in the wage rate. Those hired on a contract or fee basis, such as veterinarians, AI technicians and milk testers, are not included.

To find regional wage averages, find the report at