Discussions about money can be awkward in almost every type of relationship, but even more so between landowners and farmers, or employers and employees. As we close out 2022, many farmers and landowners have begun discussions about renewing leases and farmland rental agreements. It is also a good time of the year to think about worker benefits and wages. One of the easiest places to start thinking about how much to pay or charge is to find out the reported averages. As with all statistics, just knowing the average is only part of the story, but at least it offers an unbiased reference point for both parties to begin those awkward conversations.
Farmland Rental Rates
The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistic Service (NASS) annually surveys farm owners/managers to provide average land rental rates. Unfortunately their survey summary does not offer the range of rates paid, but does offer county, state, or regional averages.
The following is a summary of the information NASS provided for Northwest Florida from 2022 surveys. The rates reported were the annual rate per acre, so these are not monthly rates. Table 1 provides the average rate per acre for renting non-irrigated, dryland, or rain-fed crop land by county. The average rental rates in 2022 ranged from $45.50/acre to $101/acre, with an average of $72.63 for the eight Panhandle Counties in the NASS report. For the Southeastern sates, the average dryland crop rental rate was $63.50/acre.
NASS no longer provides an irrigated farmland rental report by county. They did provide a Florida average rate of $248/acre and a rate for Southeastern States of $212/acre. It is clear to see that farmers value irrigated land because of the stability and productivity of irrigated crop yields compared to dry-land (rain-fed) farm acres.
Pasture rental rates are significantly lower than for crop production. Considering it requires two or more acres/ cow-calf pair or horse, these rental rates reflect the lower returns per acre from livestock as compared to crops. The average rate in Northwest Florida in 2022 was $23.88/acre as compared to $21.50 across the Southeast.
Farm Worker Wages
NASS does not provide worker wages at the county level, but only reports rates in general categories for Florida and the Southeast Region. The average farm worker wage was $15.26 across all of Florida, but was $14.35 for the Southeast Region in 2022.
NASS does offer a breakdown of average farm-worker wages by category for the entire US. In the chart below you can see how wages have changed over the past two years. In October 2022, US Farm managers averaged $27.90/hr, supervisors $23.80, equipment operators $18.25, with an overall farm worker average rate of $16.75.
The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistic Services (NASS) offers a wide range of additional information based on annual surveys, as well as the Census of Agriculture every five years. To review the data available for your county, district, state, or region, use the following link: http://quickstats.nass.usda.gov/
US Farm Worker wage rate summaries were provided from the 2022 USDA NASS Farm Labor Report