Agriculture sector salary increases

After little movement in wages in recent years, people working in primary industries have made gains in what they earn according to the latest Federated Farmers Rabobank Remuneration Survey.

The report released today was developed following the survey conducted in late 2017 and early 2018.

Responses were collected from 940 employers on 13 separate farm positions across the dairy, sheep and beef and arable sectors. In addition to information on salaries the report also provides a range of other data including weekly hours worked by employees, employee age, length of employment and recruitment ease.

The report shows all surveyed positions in the dairy sector over the last year with the most notable jumps for the mid to highly skilled positions of Assistant Herd Manager (6.6%), Herd Manager (5.5%) and Farm manager (5.5%). There was also a more modest increase for the entry level farm assistant position (2.8%).

Federated Farmers Employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says it was great to see salaries heading in the right direction.

"After a couple of years of very little growth in reported salaries, it’s good to see some meaningful movement in the face of a tight labour market, especially when you consider the current rate of inflation is sitting at just 1.1 per cent," says Chris.

"We would also expect to see farm salaries continue to move north over the remainder of the year because the majority of the key agricultural sectors have performed strongly over the last 12 months. The outlook for the next 12 months is also favourable."

While salaries were up for dairy farm workers, the survey also revealed dairy employees were working longer hours.

"The weekly hours worked by permanent dairy staff in the previous year’s survey was an average of 45 hours per week and this has now risen to 49 hours," Chris says.
"Over 63 per cent of dairy sector employers report it being ‘not at all easy’ or ‘not very easy’ to find employees and the longer hours could well be a result of dairy farmers and their current employees having to work to cover vacant positions."

For the arable sector, the report found strong growth for most positions while a drop in the mean salary of arable farm managers was recorded.
"Generally there has been good salary growth for those employed in the arable sector since the last report with the average salary increase for non-management positions up by close to six per cent," he says.

"We did see the salary data come back a bit for arable farm managers, however, as with previous years, we again had a low number of survey respondents for this position and this has meant the mean salary has jumped around quite a bit for this role."

Employees in the sheep and beef sector saw stable salaries overall although there was a significant jump in mean salary for the sheep and beef farm manager position which rose by 5.2 per cent since the previous survey.