Data Can Help Feed The World

Human resources data, gleaned from surveys of employers and employees, can help the agricultural industry evolve.

By Bonnie Johnson

The United Nations indicated that we’ll need to feed 9.7 billion people by the year 2050. To account for the growing global population, agricultural production will need to increase by 60 per cent, according to World Agriculture Towards 2030/2050.

By encouraging careers in agriculture, our industry will make great strides in accomplishing these important goals.

The recent Careers in Agriculture E-book by AgCareers.com highlights many of these challenges, as well as the resources we can use to meet this demand. (This publication can be accessed at: agcareers.com/career-profiles/ag-careers-e-book.)

The agri-food industry will need an influx of qualified employees to meet the hefty load of feeding and nourishing a growing world. AgCareers.com strives to “Feed the World with Talent” to address these needs.

Collecting, analyzing and presenting data from our industry helps employers recruit and retain the best talent, and assists candidates in their career searches. As a result, AgCareers.com actively engages in this work and releases several reports annually.

AgCareers.com also conducts at least one targeted market research project per year and collects specialized data based on location, career type or industry sector. One such study is the Employee Compensation in Pork Production project for the National Pork Board.

The following article provides a breakdown of the data we analyze and the resulting types of information that can be used to benefit the agricultural industry.

Job outlook

Every year, AgCareers.com analyzes website trends in our Job Outlook Report. By examining jobs posted, we investigate trends in agricultural careers and recruitment. We compile region-specific or global data, such as the top industry types or top career types. In 2017, employers posted the highest number of positions in the sales/retail career type, followed by farm and ranch operations/herdsperson/on farm.


1 Sales/retail
2 Farm and ranch operations/herdsperson/on farm
3 Accounting/finance/asset management
4 Operations
5 Maintenance/repair
6 Business development/strategic management
7 Operator/general laborer
8 Manufacturing/production
9 Custom applicator/pest control
10 Agronomist

For those positions in which the educational level was specified, half required a bachelor’s degree or higher.

From the applicant perspective, 63 per cent of individuals had a bachelor’s degree or higher. More than half of applicants were currently in an agricultural occupation and nearly 60 per cent had an ag-related degree.

What are candidates looking for? In 2017, the top three searched words on AgCareers.com were sales, agronomy and internship.


Agribusinesses want and need to know what their fellow ag employers are experiencing and doing related to human capital. The AgCareers.com Agribusiness HR Review is an annual questionnaire that documents human resource trends and practices of agricultural companies.

Employers felt competing for talent and difficulties with recruitment were their most concerning human resource matters, according to data from the latest 2017-2018 U.S. and Canadian HR Reviews.

American participants agreed that technical and hourly roles were most difficult to fill, while Canadian participants said sales roles were most challenging to fill. Employers’ challenges in recruitment were related to the fact that applicants did not have the required skills, respondents said.

Employers can leverage data from the HR Review to remain competitive both inside and outside the industry.

Overall, 88 percent of companies experienced an increase in salaries during the past year, according to data from the latest HR review conducted in the summer of 2017. A larger group of respondents (97 percent) said some or all staff would see salary increases in the next year.

Farm Swine Worker Base Salary $27,816 (avg)

AgCareers.com also examined employee attrition, bonus schemes, benefits and flexible staffing.


Competitive compensation systems are a top way in which employers compete with other employers for candidates. Fair and competitive compensation systems are also a common HR concern among ag employers. Agribusinesses are increasingly aware that, if they fall behind in compensation rates, this issue could have serious consequences for their abilities to compete against other employers.

Around half of the agribusinesses we surveyed performed compensation studies in the past year. AgCareers.com also conducts the Compensation Benchmark Review (CBR), which is one such industry-specific study. The CBR is the leading online agribusiness salary survey in North America. The survey provides validated data specific to the agribusiness industry in a comprehensive format.

CBR data is available in multiple reporting formats so participants can easily benchmark and compare their compensation data to like companies. Each year, companies report the salaries of about 100,000 North American employees to AgCareers.com for benchmarking. Employers can access figures for over 230 positions in the database. They can see how their base salaries, performance pay and benefits stack up against competitors in the same location, position, sector and company size.

For instance, based on American CBR data from March, a farm swine worker has an average base salary of US$27,816.


As noted in our earlier discussion of keywords, AgCareers.com visitors are strongly interested in internships. Employers also use formal internship programs as one of their primary methods of attracting new graduates.


To improve the experience for both interns and employers, AgCareers.com conducts the Internship Benchmark Survey every summer. The survey allows interns to provide positive and constructive anonymous feedback, and provides participating companies with student evaluations of their programs in an industry benchmarking format.

Analyzing 2017 internship data, we discovered that employers formally reviewed 77 percent of interns, the most common benefit offered to interns was overtime pay, and 99 percent of interns would recommend their employers to friends. Employers can benchmark their results against other ag companies and also receive very candid, pointed suggestions from interns on what to improve upon.

Interns would you pursue another internship or full-time career with this company

Employer surveys

AgCareers.com surveys and collects additional data from agricultural employers to assist candidates in the job search process and to help employers understand what their counterparts are experiencing. We are currently conducting the Diversity in the Workplace survey. We have also surveyed employers about the hiring of military veterans, interns and new graduates, as well as total rewards. .

Candidate surveys

We survey job seekers and collect candidate data to provide feedback and information to agricultural employers, but also to help candidates understand their fellow job seekers. AgCareers.com will be launching a candidate experience survey soon, but has already surveyed job seekers about their motivations, behaviors, gender roles and equality, as well as their perceptions of the industry and the job search process..

Bonnie Johnson
Bonnie Johnson has twenty years of professional marketing experience, including nearly eight years with AgCareers.com. As a marketing associate, she supports the team and brand through marketing and communications efforts. This includes internal and external communications, email marketing, company branding, market research and data analysis. Bonnie was raised on a farm in northeast Iowa, and has a master’s degree from Iowa State University.

AgCareers.com continues to evolve its research to target human resource trends in the agricultural industry. The company is committed to its role as a leading market research provider for the agri-food industry. Much of AgCareers. com’s research data is available to the public and may be downloaded at agcareers.com/reports.cfm. If you would like additional market data to assist in building the talent pipeline or have suggestions for market research, please contact us at agcareers@agcareers.com.

Tags: Careers