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Career Summary


Agriculture includes two large subsectors—crop production and animal production— Crop production includes farms that mainly grow crops used for food and fiber, while animal production includes farms and ranches that raise animals for sale or for animal products.
Establishments in agriculture include farms, ranches, dairies, greenhouses, nurseries, orchards, and hatcheries. The operators, or people who run these agricultural businesses, typically either own the land in production or they lease the land from the owner.

Animal production includes establishments that raise livestock, such as beef cattle, poultry, sheep, and hogs; farms that employ animals to produce products, such as dairies, egg farms, and apiaries (bee farms that produce honey); and animal specialty farms, such as horse farms and aquaculture (fish farms). Crop production includes the growing of grains, such as wheat, corn, and barley; field crops, such as cotton and tobacco; vegetables and melons; fruits and nuts; and horticultural specialties, such as flowers and ornamental plants. Of course, many farms have both crops and livestock, such as those that grow their own animal feed, or have diverse enterprises.

Establishments that supply support activities for animal production perform services that may include breeding, pedigree record services, boarding horses, livestock spraying, and sheep dipping and shearing. Workers in establishments providing breeding services monitor herd condition and nutrition, evaluate the quality and quantity of forage, recommend adjustments to feeding when necessary, identify the best cattle or other livestock for breeding and calving, advise on livestock pedigrees, inseminate cattle artificially, and feed and care for sires.

Work hours generally vary and the jobs often require longer than an 8-hour day and a 5-day, 40-hour week; work cannot be delayed when crops must be planted and harvested, or when animals must be sheltered and fed. Weekend work generally is the norm, and farmers, agricultural managers, crew leaders, farm-equipment operators, and agricultural workers may work a 6- or 7-day week during planting and harvesting seasons. Graders and sorters may work evenings or weekends because of the perishable nature of the products. Almost 22 percent of employees in this industry work variable schedules.



















©Rachel Woosley 2011