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KayDee Gilkey Off-Farm Occupations of Farm Operators and Their Spouses
by KayDee Gilkey, click here for bio

Program: Farm and Ranch Report
Date: September 24, 2013

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A recent USDA Economic Research Service Report on Off-Farm Income shares some interesting results specifically around what are the most common occupations and industries of off-farm wages and salary jobs held by family farm operators and their spouses.

Most farm house households -- nine out of ten -- have at least on family member working at an off-the-farm job. What type of jobs? Well nearly 36 percent held professional and magament occupations. this is higher than for metropolitan area workers in general or for nonmetroploital workers.

Co-author of the report and ERS Economist Jeremy Weber says he and his co-author were not surprised with the high number of professional and management positions held in off-farm income.

Weber: “I think it might be surprising to many people who underestimate the skills that farming requires and the level at which farm operators and their spouse are working when they work off the farm. If they are able to obtain and maintain a skill-intensive off the farm it says something to the skills they bring to bare on the farm.”

Weber says these statistics help to dispel the notion that farmers are farming because they can’t do anything else or that farming is a low-skill occupation.

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