Agricultural Workers

Are you curious about a career as an agricultural worker in the United States of America? Now you can learn what agricultural workers do, the work environment, how to become one, salary, and job outlook. 

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is the federal government agency responsible for regulating and providing employment information on the nation’s 2 million farm workers. They also provide information for those who are interested in working in agriculture in their state. The DOL states that there are approximately 100,000 agricultural workers in the United States. The majority of these jobs are in the Midwest and South. The jobs can be full-time or part-time with many people working seasonally. The average wage for farm workers is approximately $12 per hour. 

Agricultural workers are people who work in agriculture. They include farmers, animal and poultry producers, vegetable and fruit growers, fish hatchery workers, nurserymen, foresters, researchers, and other occupations in the field of agriculture.  Farm workers work on a wide variety of farms across the country including dairy farms, livestock farms, vegetable farms, fruit orchards, beef ranches, maple sugar operations, chicken farms, strawberry fields, nurseries, and a few other types of farms. Many farm workers do multiple jobs on the same farm such as planting, weeding, picking, harvesting, packing, washing, and sorting produce.

In brief, agricultural workers do any work that is necessary for farming or agriculture.  Agricultural workers are people who work in agriculture and are usually employed for a specific farm or agricultural operation. Agricultural workers are hired to help produce crops for sale to others or for direct consumption by people.  Farm workers are not all migrant workers. Migrant workers are those who move from one job to another job. They travel around the United States or world looking for seasonal jobs.  Seasonal workers are also referred to as seasonal agricultural workers. The term seasonal agricultural worker is used when referring to workers in certain states including Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Seasonal agricultural workers can work in agriculture for up to 12 months. The majority of these workers are migrant workers. Most of these workers leave the farm they were working on when the season is over. 

In the United States, agriculture is divided into five different sectors. These sectors include crop production (including growing, harvesting, and processing crops), livestock production, poultry production, fisheries, and forestry. As you can see from the information provided above, agricultural workers come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some have a background in a traditional career that is in line with their interests such as engineering, health care, teaching, law enforcement, and other fields. Many agricultural workers have a bachelor’s degree in a field that has little or no connection to farming. For instance, a farmer might have a degree in animal science or horticulture or education. In these cases, the farm worker may need to earn a certificate or degree before they are hired by a farm.  Many farm workers have been hired without a college degree. This is especially true for farm workers who are migrant workers. Migrant workers usually come from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and other countries in Latin America. These workers often do not have much formal education. They may be illiterate or they may only speak Spanish or their native language. 

Many farm workers are paid by the hour and many others are paid by piece rate. In the United States, there is no federal law governing farm workers. State laws and local ordinances regulate hiring practices and working conditions. Some states have passed laws that protect migrant workers.  Farm workers can file complaints with the U.S. Department of Labor for wage violations. The Department of Labor can also investigate cases of migrant worker abuse.  The Department of Labor is responsible for enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act.  This is a federal law that protects agricultural workers.  Workers can file a complaint about wages or hours. Wage and hour violations are violations of the minimum wage and overtime pay requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Agricultural workers can also file complaints with the state labor department for issues relating to child labor, discrimination, safety, and other laws.  States have different laws about minimum age requirements for farm workers. Many states require that workers be at least 16 years old while some states allow workers to be younger than 18. States may also have laws that limit the number of hours that a farm worker can work in one day or week. Workers are entitled to all basic protections afforded by law. In the United States, agricultural workers have the right to form a union.  Unionization is when an individual joins a union. A union can negotiate fair wages and benefits for its members.

You are strongly encouraged to watch both videos about agricultural workers below, take good notes, and then visit the comments section below and share your thoughts and your knowledge on agricultural workers in the United States of America.

5 thoughts on “Agricultural Workers

  1. Agricultural workers in USA, they should study and pay close attention to the education and training section, as well as licenses, certifications, and registrations. -Agricultural workers typically receive on-the-job training. They maintain crops and tend to livestock but some works are focus on cooking. It is not only study at school and job training but the worker should has good communication, leadership, technical skill, strong team work, farm management, and talent on animal feeding and look after, plants growing, how to prevent insect and other tasks related to agriculture sector.

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