WORKING DAY of Farmers a High Average

Often the question is raised as to how much farmers work as compared with those in other industries. Farm-management studies undertaken in recent years by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in cooperation with State colleges of agriculture offer interesting information on the subject. As a part of these studies a careful and complete record is kept of all work done by each member of the labor force on small groups of farms.  The average number of hours worked by the farm operator and by all other workmen in some of the areas in which studies have been or are being undertaken is shown in Table 31.

TABLE 31.—The average number of hours worked by the farm operator and all other workmen for one year in selected farming areas
StateFarming areaYearNumber
Operator's labor
All other labor
ColoradoIrrigated diversified crop and sheep feeding19242125905,165
MontanaIrrigated diversified crop19201628312,812
KansasWinter wheat19252132732,237
North DakotaSpring wheat2230763,353
South Dakota1930983,938
Minnesota (south)Diversified crop and livestock19232332242,505
Minnesota (north)Dairying19252932423,332
Ohio (south)Diversified crop and livestock19232030272,830
Ohio (north)19231732833,590
North CarolinaTobacco and livestock2027816,694
TexasCotton (black-land belt)1920243,340

The hours of work shown in Table 31, include only the physical labor performed. The hours shown consist of work in the fields on crops, feeding and earing for livestock and miscellaneous maintenance and repair work about the farm. In addition the farm operator performed the duties incident to the management of the farm including the supervision of the work done by other workmen. The average amount of work done by other workmen on these farms is shown also in the table.

Some Work Much More Than Others

There is considerable variation in the number of hours worked during the year by the different farm operators. For example, one farmer in northern Minnesota worked only 848 hours, while another worked 3,948 hours. However, 25 out of the 29 farmers in this area for whom data are shown worked between 2,700 and 8,700 hours, the average for the group being 8,242 hours.

The variations in this area are fairly typical of the variations in the other areas. It should be remembered that data are included for farm operators of all ages, some of whom were supervising several other workmen. On the other hand it is possible that the farmers for whom data are shown worked more hours than the average since, as a rule, the more enterprising farmers are more likely to be interested in records of this kind.

The average number of hours worked per day by seasons in the different areas with week-day and Sunday given separately is shown in Table 32. From these data it appears that most farmers keep busy during the spring and summer—perhaps a larger number of them work on the average more than 10 hours per day than work less.  Many of them also work long days in the fall—perhaps more of them work on the average longer than 9 hours per day than work less.  Perhaps as many of them work 8 hours per day or more as work less during this winter period. The amount of work done during the winter season varies with the type of farming followed, being heaviest on those farms on which much livestock is kept. In addition to the week-day work, considerable farm work must be done on Sunday. This is particularly true on farms on which dairying is the principal enterprise.

Farmers Take Occasional Holidays

It is not to be assumed from these data that farmers work every day during the year. Practically every farmer takes a day off now and then. A given farmer will work more some days than others during the same season. The data merely show the average number of hours worked considering all work days and Sundays.

TABLE 32.—Average hours worked by farm operators by seasons, week day and Sunday separate
StateWinter*SpringSummerFallYearly average
North Dakota2.44.810.
South Dakota7.04.510.24.610.
Minnesota (south)9.95.510.34.410.
Minnesota (north)
Ohio (south)
Ohio (north)8.74.810.
North Carolina7.
* The year is divided into four equal parts, with December, January, and February considered winter the following three months, spring, etc.