Study reveals what a farm manager is worth

The average farm manager earns £49,523 including any bonuses and profit share payments.

In addition to this, they receive an estimated £8,368 in non-cash benefits such as housing, vehicle use and utility payments.

The figures come from the Institute of Agricultural Management’s (IAgrM) survey, carried out every other year.

On the face of it, the results show a £2,700 drop in salary compared with the previous survey’s average of £52,268.

See also: Farmers Weekly awards – farm manager finalists 2019

High number of young managers skews results

However, the results are skewed by a large rise in the number of younger farm managers completing the most recent survey, which, in great part, explains the apparent drop in average salary.

At 120, the level of respondents was the highest ever, and 45% of the sample were under 40 years old, compared with just 26% in 2018.

In the 2020 results, only 5% of farm managers are over 60, compared with 16% in 2018.

“It simply introduces the question of what the average age profile of farm managers is, compared with the average age of farm managers completing this salary survey. The answer to this question we do not yet have,” says the report.

Fair comparison shows just 2.1% increase over two years 

To compare this year’s survey more closely with 2018 levels, the figures were reworked to exclude all managers at either end of the age profile in both 2018 and 2020.

This showed the average manager’s salary, including profit share/bonus, increased by 2.1% – from £51,671 in 2018 to £52,769 in 2020.

Splitting the results by age bands shows that cash earnings for those aged 50-59 average £58,823 gross, compared with £45,078 for those aged 30-39.

Higher earnings at top

For the first time, the survey showed farm managers in the UK earning in excess of £90,000, and 3% getting more than £100,000/year.

However, there was a drop in the number receiving non-cash benefits. Where such benefits were paid, their value fell 40% from £14,000 to an average of £8,368.

The number of managers getting no non-cash benefits has tripled since the last survey, and such perks might become a thing of the past, say the authors. 

Holidays

More than half (55%) get 21-25 days holiday annually, while 23% get 26-30 days and 7% more than 31 days.  

Other findings include:

  • Almost one-third earn income from elsewhere, with half of these earning outside the farm through rental income. Consultancy was the next largest non-farm income source.
  • Members of IAgrM (37% of respondents) earn £4,379 more than non-members, although the reason for this is not clear.
  • More than half of all managers are degree holders, with almost all the others having achieved a diploma.
  • Two in every three farm managers have also undertaken post-education farm management and leadership training.
  • Half of farm managers now also have diversified enterprises under their management.
  • Approximately half of farm managers are employed by a private individual.
  • In line with previous surveys, three-quarters of farm managers reside in central, southern and eastern England
  • Almost all farm managers have responsibility for the day-to-day organisation of the business and decisions relating to the farm system, while only 60% have financial control of the business.
  • About 60% of farm managers receive a fixed salary, with the remainder receiving a bonus and/or a share of profits.
  • Those who contribute to a pension put in 5.7% of their salary, while employers contribute an average of 5.6%.
  • There was a drop in the percentage owning their own house, at 64%, compared with 70% in 2018, likely reflecting the far larger proportion of younger managers responding to this year’s survey.

Women and ethnic minorities under-represented

As in other years, the results show the tiny proportion of women in farm management – just 2%.

“While this survey does not capture the information, we all know ethnic minorities are also woefully under-represented,” says the report. “Agriculture is a stereotypical industry trapped in the 1960s”.

Farm Managers in 2020 findings: key salary, bonus and benefits

 

2014

2016

2018

2020

Number in sample

77

84

69

120

Gross annual pre-tax salary

47,879

49,052

48,760

46,527

Additional share of profits/bonus

5,251

3,186

3,508

3,016

Total gross annual salary plus profit share/bonus

53,130

52,238

52,268

49,523

Estimate of non-cash benefits

12,603

12,530

14,053

8,368

Source: IAgrM

The Farm managers in 2020, their jobs and their pay survey was compiled by:

  • Richard Crane – head of the agriculture and food investigation team within the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading
  • Graham Redman – a partner of The Andersons Centre and a director of Agro Business Consultants
  • Victoria Bywater – director of IAgrM.

IAgrM members can get a free copy of the full survey results via the “member resources” section of the IAgrM website.

Non-members can obtain a copy for £25 by emailing IAgrM at enquiries@iagrm.co.uk

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