Market Morsel: Who are the hardest working farmers?

Conversations | 31st March 2023 | By Andrew Whitelaw

Market Morsel

Agriculture is hard work. It’s long hours; even we lowly agricultural market analysts work 27 hours a day, eight days per week.

One of the facts of being self-employed is that you will likely do much higher hours than someone on the payroll.

What agricultural industry is doing the most prolonged hours? Which are the ‘hardest’ workers?

It doesn’t really surprise me, but the industry doing the largest hours per week (according to ABARES survey data) is the dairy industry. A dairy farm’s primary owner/manager works 61.2 hours per week. This is an average over the past five years.

According to the ABARES data, beef farmers have the shortest week at 40.4 hours per week.

While not all farmers have a partner, otherwise there would be no demand for famer wants a wife/husband, but many do. Generally, these spouses, be they husband or wife, will be involved in the operation of the farming enterprise.

The spouses contributing the most are also in the dairy industry at 20 hours per week. In the cropping and sheep industries, spouses put the least hours in at 14 hours per week.

The dairy farmers are the ones, according to ABARES data putting in the big hours at 81.2 hours per week combined between owner/manager and spouse.

PS Don’t take this too seriously. It’s not a competition for who is the hardest worker in agriculture (although it’s clearly the EP3 team). Bear in mind that this is ABARES data based on their farm surveys.