Farm manager salaries stagnate but benefits rise £1,500 in two years

Farm managers earned an average of £52,268 in 2017, just £30 more than two years earlier.

This was made up of a £48,760 gross salary plus an average £3,508 bonus or profit share, according to a survey by the Institute of Agricultural Management (IAgrM).

However, within the average there was marked trend towards managers being paid on a fixed-salary basis rather than salary plus profit share and bonus.

There was a larger growth in the value of non-cash benefits than in salary. These rose by 12% to average £14,053 a year.

See also: Farmers Weekly Awards – Farm Manager of the Year finalists 2018

Farm managers’ pay

Year

Pre-tax cash earnings: gross annual basic salary plus profit share/bonus 

2008

£38,918

2010

£44,655

2012

£50,037

2014

£53,130

2016

£52,238

2018

£52,268

“Farm Managers in 2018 – their jobs and their pay” is a survey conducted every second year by IAgrM. It has been running for 49 years and the 2018 survey, relating to 2017 pay and benefits, was completed online by 85 managers.

Many of those who completed the most recent survey have been regular contributors to past versions, so there is a reasonable degree of stability within the range of responses.

IAgrM suggests that the move to more managers being paid a fixed salary may be linked to a drop in the number of managers employed by family trust-type organisations and an increase in those employed by private individuals.

This may reflect a trend for more people from outside farming buying land and farms on which they need professional managers.

Interestingly, the level of exclusive responsibility carried by managers has fallen in several areas.

While the survey shows that 93% are entirely responsible for day-to-day management (up from 88% in the previous survey), entire responsibility for recruitment and dismissal of staff has fallen, as it has for buying and selling stock, machinery purchases, decisions about the farm system, investment and financial control.

Conversely, the percentage of managers taking partial responsibility for some of these areas has risen.

IAgrM director Richard Cooksley suggested that manager buying and selling responsibility may have reduced in some cases as a result of the poor harvest in 2012, when many farms found themselves in an oversold position, although this was certainly not always the result of a farm manager’s decisions.

There was also an element of consultants being brought in to do some of the backroom work that a manager may previously have done, Mr Cooksley said.

Commenting on the poor rate of increase in manager earnings, he suggested it reflected a tough time in farm financial performance, with relatively low cereal and milk prices.

The survey confirms the tendency for people to remain in the role for a relatively long time, with 23% not expecting to leave farm management until they are older than 65.

Farm managers are an ageing group

Age

1969

2009

2012

2014

2016

2018

Under 30 (%)

19

4

5

1

5

9

30 – 39

44

19

20

13

17

17

40 – 49

30

39

45

51

37

32

50 – 59

7

34

24

26

35

26

60 +

0

30

6

9

7

16

Percentage of managers receiving non-cash benefits has fallen in all areas

(corresponding 2016 result in brackets)

  • Free housing 73% (88%)
  • House lighting and heating paid 26% (34%)
  • Running costs paid of car for private use 49% (56%)
  • Free farm produce 12% (19%)
  • Other benefits (eg telephone, subscriptions) 68% (73%)

Earnings from outside their full-time farm manager role have been growing since 2009 but the latest results based on earnings in 2017 show a fall, with 30% having earnings outside their farm manager job, compared with 40% two year earlier.

Related to this, 70% own a house, some of which are rented out as the managers are offered a house with their farm role. However, the 70% house ownership figure is a slight fall from 2016’s level of 69% and well down on 87% recorded in 2014.

Retirement

  • 23% expect to be in farm management beyond age 65

Pension

  • Pension is included in package for 87% of managers

Salary

  • 61% on a fixed salary
  • 29% get salary and bonus

Holidays – excluding public holidays

  • 4% get 16-20 days
  • 64% get 21-25 days
  • 23% get 26-30 days
  • 3% get 31 days or more

Where did farm mangers’ other earnings come from?

(30% had earnings from outside their farm job in 2017 – figures in brackets show results from previous survey)

  • Consultancy 19% (12%)
  • Rental income 43% (47%)
  • Private/other income 38% (41%)

Read the full report

The full report is available from The Institute of Agricultural Management, Portbury House, Sheepway, Portbury, Bristol, BS20 7TE. Telephone 01275 843825 or email enquiries@iagrm.org.uk

Five free places at Tasmania farm management event

IAgrM is sponsoring five places at the International Farm Management Association Congress (IFMA) in Tasmania in March 2019. 

Sponsorship includes a place at the 2019 IFMA Congress ‘Growing Agriculture @41 Degrees South’ from 3 – 8 March 2019 in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.

Applicants must be able to cover their own travel and other costs not directly associated with congress attendance and:

  • Not previously have attended an IFMA congress
  • Be in full time education or have been an IAgrM member for two years
  • Be willing to report on their experience

Closing date for submissions is Friday 5 October – contact enquiries@iagrm.org.uk or call 01275 843825 for more information.

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