Job as a farm manager

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Emma Smith is a farmer. She and her partner have their own farm. When she was young, Emma helped out on the family farm whenever she could, such as during the school holidays, so it was natural for Emma to take up a career in farming.

What do you do?

My partner and I run our own sheep farm with approximately 1,000 Rhyader speckle type mountain ewes. I help out when I can with the day-to-day running of the farm.

What does your work involve?

I feed and look after the sheep during the winter and spring. We normally start feeding at the beginning of January and finish feeding around the middle of May. It's important to supplement the ewes 'diet during this time, as in the colder months there is less food available for them on the hills. In the spring, I assist with the lambing. I use a quad bike and, occasionally, a horse to get around the farm and we also have sheepdogs to round up the sheep. I spend the majority of my time outdoors.

I also do some paperwork for the farm. Doing the paperwork includes keeping records of the sheep that we have on the farm, the numbers that we sell and where they go to, and any that we purchase (which as a rule is only rams because we operate a closed flock, which means that we breed our own replacements). I also have to keep records of any medicine that we treat the sheep with. In addition, I fill in Single Farm Payment and Environmentally Sensitive Area forms for the farm.

What else do you do?

I also work as a field officer for the Welsh Assembly Government. I travel to farms in the area and verify farmers' claims for subsidies. This involves checking the records that farmers have to keep, looking at their land to ensure that no cross compliance regulations (standards for environmental management on farms) are being breached, and checking livestock, for example ensuring that cattle tagging regulations are being met.

What personal qualities do you need?

You need a huge amount of motivation, the ability to work on your own, and the capacity to see what work needs to be done around the farm. A sense of humour also helps for those moments when everything seems to go wrong!

Why did you choose farming?

I have always had an interest in farming and loved helping out on the family farm when I was younger, so it all started there.

What are the best and worst parts of your job?

I like working with animals and being (almost) my own boss. However, I dislike the short daylight hours in the winter, and it can get pretty cold and wet. Paperwork is also a big headache.

What is your biggest challenge?

Keeping the farm running as a financially viable prospect is our biggest challenge. To receive farming subsidies under the new Single Payment Scheme, we have to ensure that all of our land is kept in good agricultural and environmental condition and that we meet the Statutory Management Requirements relating to environmental, public and animal welfare, as set out by the European Union.

Emma's route to her job as a farm manager

  • GCSEs
  • A levels
  • Degree in Agriculture and Countryside Management

Emma's tips

  • Be ready for long hours and not a great deal of financial reward.
  • The ever increasing amount of paperwork that is necessary in today's farming environment is going to rise only further, so be prepared to appreciate its significance.

Farm manager related jobs

  • Countryside/conservation officer
  • Farm secretary
  • Farm worker (crops)
  • Farm worker (livestock)
  • Fish farmer
  • Veterinary surgeon

Salary of a farm manager

  • Earnings vary widely depending on a number of factors such as the size of the farm, the subsidies they receive, what price they get for buying and selling livestock at any given time, and how they run the business.
  • However, the average earnings for full-time farmers/farm managers range from £18,000 to £30,000.

Farm manager related qualifications

  • It is possible to enter farming at many different levels. Some entrants have no qualifications, although employers may expect a relevant qualification in agriculture. There is a wide range of full-time and part-time qualifications available at all levels, including NVQs/SVQs, BTEC national qualifications, HNDs and degrees. Many farmers/farm managers have an HND or degree.
  • Most entrants to farming have had some work experience on a farm.
  • You can study towards qualifications while working on a farm.
  • Apprenticeships are also available.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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