Career in agriculture: Farmer is looking for a career perspective


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Farmers are systemically important as food producers. Unfortunately, there is a lack of young people in the industry. What conditions have to be fulfilled in order to carry out the work and what does farmers expect in their daily work?

Career in agriculture: Farmer is looking for a career perspective


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A farmer as a profession: facts and figures

Farmers play an important role in the functioning of a society: in large parts, they provide the basis for the food supply to the population. In 2019 there were approximately in Germany 266.000 farms. A number that shows that the industry is still very relevant, even though these are far fewer agricultural companies than, for example, 40 years ago.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, agriculture, forestry and fisheries as a whole were in the second quarter of 2019 639.000 people busy. There has also been a significant quantitative decline in personnel over the past few decades. The job is varied and fulfilling - but not easy either.

Large business vs. Smallholder

Large companies in particular find economic survival easier, in some cases smaller farms find it difficult to keep up and give up. The reasons for this are the use of machines and increasing modernization. A farmer can now farm or care for more land and more animals by technical means alone and thereby work more profitably.

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On the one hand, this means that fewer workers are needed. On the other hand, larger companies find it easier to invest more, which is why they can gain a market advantage.

Education or studies

Farmer is a recognized profession, the practice of which is preceded by three years of training. Most companies require a medium-level education. As part of the training, prospective farmers learn under realistic conditions a whole host of skills, among other things the handling of the necessary machines, various aspects of livestock husbandry as well as the necessary specialist knowledge on the subject of soil management.

Vocational training or studies? How to become a farmer

In addition to subject-specific knowledge, the accompanying vocational school also includes more general subjects on the curriculum. Finally, there is the option to specialize as part of the training and, for example, to learn special knowledge in the field of cereal cultivation or dairy farming.

As an alternative to training, there is the possibility to study agriculture and agriculture. The prerequisite for this is a general or subject-related university entrance qualification. This path is much more theoretical, although there are many practical facets in the later work.

What do prospective farmers earn?

Trainees earn money during training depending on the apprenticeship year between 530 and 730 EUR gross per month.

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In some federal states, such as North Rhine-Westphalia, the trainees can be provided that they are paid according to the collective agreement with a little more salary as well as various bonuses for good results in vocational school.

Areas of activity: Specialization in animal breeding or agriculture

Most graduates take a path in the management or management of a large agricultural enterprise, in counseling or in research. Agricultural scientists differ in some respects from traditional farmers in terms of their fields of activity.

After training, many farmers specialize in one or more areas of activity. The main differences are in the selection of the product range produced by the respective farmer.

  • On the one hand there is the option to specialize in animal breeding. Cows for meat or milk production, but also pigs and chickens are common variants.
  • Other farmers focus on growing crops. The spectrum ranges from cereals and potatoes to lettuce and many other crops.
  • Ultimately, there are farmers who produce agricultural energy. In many cases, farmers produce not just one, but several of these products. Your area of ​​activity then comprises a combination of plant and animal breeding and sometimes also energy generation.

Independence as a farmer

The best-known form of practicing the profession is self-employment with your own farm and / or fields. Many farms are family businesses. If, as is sometimes the case, the farm is not handed over from the parents to the children, the start of the activity requires a certain basic investment.

Running costs

In addition to the running costs such as seeds or feed for the breeding animals, a share capital is required that can be used for various expenses. This includes:

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  • Buying land
  • Acquisition of the necessary equipment and machines
  • Purchase of animals and construction of appropriate stables

In a few cases, a higher share capital is due to obtain a legal form (e.g. GmbH). Depending on the farm structure, personnel costs may also be incurred for other farmers or helpers.

Investment and financing

Therefore, it is essential to have a good knowledge of yourself again and again changing regulations and production method to attain, constantly refresh and implement in everyday work. Basics or details: Independent farmers need in-depth knowledge in all relevant specialist areas in order to be competitive. It can also be beneficial to a certain extent to demonstrate your own innovative spirit within the framework of the regulations.

In addition to the basic investment, for example, for approval further details will be noted. A distinction is made between different types of vehicles. Approval for road traffic is mandatory regardless of whether the tractor is used for such transport journeys.

Income from self-employed farmers

But other subtleties also play a decisive role. A farmer can only produce in a targeted and profitable manner for the market and live from his work if he adheres to the laws on cultivation specified by the European Union.

An independent farmer earns on average across Germany between 1900 and 2600 euros gross per month. If the economy is good or there is a steady, profitable expansion of the business, there is certainly a lot of room for improvement.

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Employed as a farmer?

Many farmers take the opportunity to start self-employment after completing their training, while others take on an employment relationship. This can be offered by large companies, but also by smaller farms. Employed farmers should of course also have completed training and extensive expertise. However, they are spared the often extremely difficult and existential decisions in the industry, for example regarding the calculation, the product range or the manufacturing methods.

The salary as an employed farmer depends heavily on whether the farm is bound by a collective agreement. Starting wages can between 1700 and 1900 euros gross monthly, with increasing experience, the earnings increase. However, the upward scope is not as great as with an independent farmer.

Professional associations for farmers

As in many other sectors, farmers also have a whole range of different professional associations. On the one hand, more general mergers such as the Deutsche Bauernbund e. V., which also has regional representations in several federal states, or the German Farmers' Association, which is generally a good point of contact for representing your own interests.

Regional associations such as the Bavarian Farmers' Association also play a key role. On the other hand, there are associations for different niches. This includes representations for dairy farmers such as the Bundesverband Deutscher Milchviehhalter e. V .. There are also contact points and interest groups for organic farmers.

Organic farmers: promising niche?

There are also branches of industry in agriculture that are booming and have particular future viability. For example, with society's growing awareness of sustainability and environmental issues Organic farmers possibly hope for positive times and good profits. Such farmers dispense with artificial fertilizers and other additives and also follow special and ethically valuable principles in animal husbandry. Energy efficiency also plays a major role in production methods.

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The market is currently growing steadily, but rather slowly. However, this can quickly change due to the social change towards more ecological awareness. There are also regional differences. There are a particularly large number of organic farmers in the Saarland 2019 percent of agricultural land in 17 managed in this way. Whether organic farmers will be successful in the long term will also depend on whether the European Union provides sufficient funding for this part of agriculture. At the moment, many signs suggest that financial support for organic farming will be cut. The next few years and decades will show whether the niche can assert itself permanently.

Conclusion: farmer - a job with a future?

In many cases, farmers gain the qualification for their job through training, sometimes through university studies. According to this, they are active in various fields such as animal or plant breeding or energy generation.

The salary range allows a lot of leeway, especially for self-employed farmers who own a large farm. Despite the changes in the industry in recent decades, it will continue to be highly relevant in society and the economy.


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