Long Hours

January 3, 2014 06:33 PM

About 75% of farmers report spending 10 hours or more a day on farm work

FJ pulse long hours

The days might be shorter in the winter, but that doesn’t mean farmers spend less time tending to their operational duties. In an early December Farm Journal Pulse survey, more than 1,600 farmers and ranchers answered the question: How many hours a day do you spend on farm-related work?

Slightly more than half of respon­dents reported spending 10 to 14 hours per day on farm tasks, while around 20% reported five to nine hours. Slightly less, 17%, said they spend 15 or more hours a day, and the fewest, only 7%, reported one to four hours.

Manage your time. Producers can typically divide up their daily tasks into three major buckets, says Chris Barron, a Top Producer columnist and Iowa farmer. These areas are: cost of production (or business management), yield levels and marketing.

To ring in the new year, Barron encour­ages farmers to identify how they spend their time. "Draw a pie chart and determine how much time you spend in each of those camps," he says. "That will give you a visual perspective of your business."

Overall, Barron says most producers focus on yields. A lot of farmers don’t like marketing, which means they devote as little time as possible to that slice of pie.

"It is easy to ignore things that are frustrating or difficult," he acknowledges. "But all of these areas are important. Use a simple pie chart to determine what parts of your business need more of your time."

Barron says this process can also help identify ways to improve profitability. "Focus not only on the price of grain, but also your margin [profit] levels," he says. "When you know what margin you want to sell your grain at, instead of a price level, you remove a lot of the emotion."

Now that’s time well spent. 

You can e-mail Sara Schafer at sschafer@farmjournal.com.

To see a full listing of past Farm Journal Pulse polls and to sign up to participate in the survey, visit www.FarmJournalPulse.com

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