Learning how to effectively recruit, hire, train and retain workers is a critical farm management skill. The right employees doing the right tasks can take your farm to the next level of profitability. This site contains tips, tools and techniques to get you on the right track.


Hired farmworkers make up less than 1 percent of all U.S. wage and salary workers, but play an essential role in U.S. agriculture. Wages, salaries, and contract labor expenses represent roughly 17 percent of total variable farm costs and as much as 40 percent of costs in labor-intensive crops such as fruit, vegetables, and nursery products.

Getting Started


Funding for the Farm Labor Dashboard comes from two USDA grant projects:

  • Improving the Quality of Labor Management Decisions for Small and Medium-sized Farm Operators (USDA Award Number: 2014-68006-21873) examined relationships between household needs, farm structure, and market forces to understand how farmers can better anticipate the amount and type of labor needed to attain their goals. Using qualitative and quantitative methods, the team examined how farmer decisions around labor relate to existing farm structure, management style and market channels, development stage of the farm, and life stage of the family. The team used that information to develop an innovative decision-support dashboard to assist farmers in addressing their labor needs.
  • Improving Labor Management Decisions on Small And Medium Sized Farms (USDA Award number 2018-69006-28096) focuses on the relationships between the existing labor pool(s), opportunities for mechanization, adoption of emerging technologies, and the level of employee skills and qualifications that best enable farmers to identify an optimal mix of labor needed to attain their business goals. The research components of this project are examining how farm labor approaches align with the farm operator's goals, attitudes toward mechanization and technology adoption, management style and market channels. The research is also examinining how different strategies align with farmers' age, sex, and education level. Research findings will support development of additional decision-support tools and educational resources for farmers, all of which will be located on the existing farm labor dashboard.
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