New Trends for Salary and Benefits in Agriculture

These days, there are frequent headlines that describe jaw-dropping dollar figures on what employers are willing to pay to attract and hire employees. Many of us might disregard those headlines because we think they only apply to the service industry. But there is overwhelming evidence that the trends we’re seeing are affecting the C-Suite and professional-level job market in the Agriculture industry.

Read on to learn more about the challenges and opportunities this creates in sourcing and hiring the best talent in today’s market.

Why Agricultural Employers Should Be Concerned

It is true, much of the headlines coming from the job market are concerning non-skilled labor, not the executive or professional level of candidates you may be looking for. But the changes in one market are having a ripple effect across even far-flung markets that don’t overlap with non-skilled labor.

There are universal factors, like the rise in inflation, that are affecting how much people are looking for in their new roles. But two factors are coming together to create a perfect headache for Agriculture’s employers: a rapidly shrinking talent pool and the ways the pandemic has changed and is continuing to change the hiring landscape.

Ag’s Shrinking Pool Of Talent

The Agricultural industry is a niche market. That is especially true for employers looking for executive and professional talent. For the most part, many employers are seeking talent with industry experience or a book of business running a company in a very weather-dependent and seasonal industry. Thing is, that experienced pool of talent is growing smaller and smaller every day.

Why is the agricultural talent pool tighter than it was just 10 years ago?

The most simple explanation is supply versus demand.

More and more folks who have pondered retirement over the past 2-5 years have finally pulled the trigger and many of them well before their normal retirement age. There are many reasons for this shift, but the two most prominent reasons viable talent decided to retire early was either market disruption due to COVID, or market conditions for retirement portfolios became more favorable.

A Historical Shift Away From Ag

20-30 years ago Ag was largely an industry of consolidation. There were fewer opportunities and marginal commodity prices. For many workers, Ag wasn’t the place to be. At that time, many workers moved into other industries or did not pursue agriculture at all coming out of school. 

This is precisely the age group that should be stepping into many of these roles that retirements are leaving open. But pure demographic numbers say there are 2 people retiring for every 1 available and experienced to take their place in our industry.

Unfortunately, this trend doesn’t look to be turning around. Just recently a large land grant university in the Midwest took a good hard look on their enrollment in the Ag Department and it’s down roughly 30% from 5 years ago. Even worse, by 2025, major colleges expect to see student enrollment fall off of another cliff, all due to low birth rates 20 years ago.

Hiring Talent After COVID

The changes that have been occurring in non-skilled industries are having a reverberating effect even in the Agriculture’s executive and C-Suite employment markets. Encouraged by a newfound power to negotiate for better benefits and more workplace flexibility, today’s top candidates are asking more from employers. 


The ability to work from home is a good example of that change. 


It is true that many positions are just not possible to go fully remote. But the pandemic has shown us how many tasks we’d never imagine can not only be done remotely, but for some workers, can be accomplished better than if they were in an office. Because of this, many candidates are looking for more flexibility with remote options, or a “hybrid” model of splitting time working from home and at the office.


At their peril, many employers are not catching up with the times. They are either not offering what candidates are looking for, or worse, refusing to because they are either unwilling or incapable of providing more flexibility or better benefits.

What Does This Mean for Hiring Talent? 

  1. Many candidates for your roles aren’t aware they’re candidates yet. They are probably not looking to make a change so they haven’t actively started to look for jobs. You need a skilled recruiter who knows where to find them, who can sell them on your company, and recruit them. (The best of these companies are doing everything they can to retain their top talent.)
  2. You must be prepared to sell yourself as a client. The Ag job market is extremely competitive for employers. Because of this, interviews are less about screening, than they are for recruiting. The most successful organizations are able to effectively convince candidates why they’d want to work at their company.
  3. Expect that when you’re connected with the perfect candidate, your ability to negotiate their compensation is minimized. Four other companies may be knocking on their door. While money isn’t always the motive, it’s often the key deciding factor if there are similar opportunities to compare. Don’t try to cut yourself short on what you will consider paying someone with proven success.
  4. Salaries are going to continue to increase because of the need for experienced talent in these roles and the simple fact that there are less and less available with that agricultural specific skill set.

What Are The Most Successful Employers Doing?

Many employers are limiting their options by not considering a variety of factors that have shifted in today’s job market. 

If you are firm on the salary you’re willing to offer for a role, keep in mind that you will more than likely be limiting your success in finding the right person for the role. But that doesn’t mean you can’t offer something else today’s candidates are looking for. There are plenty of other perks that can help offset some of the true salary piece, but you’ve got to be willing to think outside of the box when hiring today and going forward for the foreseeable future.

That is why, even during this exceptionally difficult job market, many Ag employers are still able to find and hire great talent. How are they making it happen? 

Offering more of what workers are looking for is actually the second step to finding and hiring the best talent. Your first step is partnering with a highly talented recruiting agency like Ag 1 Source. We can rapidly provide the highest quality candidates. With our candidates, you’ll spend less time screening their qualifications, so you can focus your negotiations on providing the strongest offer possible.

We are here to help mitigate the problems you are facing in the hiring process. With our expertise, you’ll be able to find top talent that isn’t currently looking for work, And we can help you get creative in what you can and should offer your new hires to entice and keep them working for you for the long haul.

Contact us and find your top talent today!