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Grain and Forage Crop Producer

Grain and forage crop producers are farmers who grow grains. These can include wheat, barley, triticale, canola, oats, rye, flax, peas, specialty crops, or annual and perennial forage crops.

Also Known As

Farmer, Grower

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Farmers and Farm Managers (8251) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Farmers and Farm Managers (I011) 
  • 2011 NOC: Managers in agriculture (0821) 
  • 2016 NOC: Managers in agriculture (0821) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Farmers and Farm Managers

2006 NOC: 8251

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
DIRECTIVE

Interest in supervising and hiring farm workers; and in determining amounts and kinds of crops to be grown and livestock to be raised, and in purchasing farm machinery, livestock, seed, feed and other supplies

METHODICAL

Interest in co-ordinating information to plant, cultivate and harvest crops; and in raising and breeding livestock and poultry

OBJECTIVE

Interest in driving - operating and maintaining farm machinery, equipment and buildings

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Grain and forage crop producers may specialize in different types of operations. Their duties vary depending on the types of crops produced, the size and purpose of the operation, and the production system they follow. In general, they:

  • Determine the area and kinds of crops to be grown and the rotation (sequence of crops) to follow
  • Carry out or oversee the cultivation, planting, fertilizing, spraying, scouting, and harvesting of crops
  • Manage and store harvested products off-season
  • Recruit and supervise staff
  • Market crops
  • Load and transport harvested crops to markets
  • Purchase farm machinery, seed, fertilizer, chemicals, and other supplies
  • Maintain machinery, equipment, buildings, and land
  • Monitor crop growth, including field surveys for plant health, pests, and diseases
  • Carry out financial management activities such as keeping and submitting records, purchasing insurance, and applying for operational loans

Traditional crop producers grow crops such as wheat and canola. Other options include pedigreed seed production and specialty crops.

Pedigreed seed producers increase the amount of seed for new crop varieties, to be sold to other producers, or wholesaled to agricultural businesses. They also need to:

  • Obtain additional training and certification
  • Provide increased monitoring of fields, including walking fields and inspections
  • Learn strong marketing skills
  • Develop their knowledge of seed processing
  • Satisfy additional reporting, financial records, and fee requirements

Specialty crop producers grow small acreage crops such as spices, specialty oats, and barley, hemp, seeds, and medicinal crops, or processing crops such as corn, peas, and Saskatoon berries. In addition to the duties listed above, they may need to:

  • Operate and manage specialized machines such as planters and harvesters
  • Learn strong marketing skills
  • Apply crop-specific quality control practices

Commercial forage crop producers plant cereals, legumes, or grasses to sell as feed for livestock. Some producers diversify into animal production and grow their own forage. Others sell their forage as a cash crop.

Forage crop producers harvest annual cereal and pulse crops using specialized equipment to uniformly chop the whole plant. This can then be used to produce silage (fermented forage) for cattle feed. Annual crops can also be cut and left in the field for grazing during the winter months. Perennial forage crops are generally cut and baled to be used as feed, although they can also be used for silage.

Some commercial forage producers specialize in one type of forage, such as alfalfa. They may sell this to processing plants to be dehydrated and compressed into pellets or cubes.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Grain farming is a highly mechanized operation. It involves large equipment that is often monitored by computers and GPS systems. Grain farmers must be willing to spend long and sometimes tedious days operating machinery during seeding and harvesting seasons. They must be prepared to work in changing and sometimes adverse weather including hot, dusty conditions. Some operations such as spraying mean flexible work hours, depending on the weather.

Air-conditioned machine cabs have improved conditions for many farm operations that involve equipment. However, there is still a lot of manual labour involved with crop production. Cleaning, maintenance, loading, and operating equipment requires manual labour. Manual labour is also required for storage facilities, buildings, and land-site upkeep.

Work takes place mostly during the growing season from April to November. This leaves more time in winter to prepare for the next year and to transport harvested crops for sale. Many grain farmers supplement their operation with livestock production. This keeps them busy throughout the year. Pedigreed seed growers spend the winter season cleaning grain and marketing their products. This also means year-round operations. The winter months also allow for producer meetings, conferences, and other events to promote changes in agriculture and provide learning opportunities.

Grain and forage crop producers do a large amount of physical labour, routinely lift heavy loads, and are outside in all kinds of weather.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Grain and forage crop producers need:

  • Organizational skills
  • Patience, a positive attitude, and a high level of personal commitment
  • Business skills
  • Computer skills for equipment operation and reporting
  • Self-discipline and self-motivation
  • Strength and endurance
  • Mechanical aptitude required to operate and service equipment
  • No allergies to grains or forage dust

They should enjoy taking responsibility for their operations. They should like taking a methodical approach to their work. They should be comfortable working outdoors, and driving and operating machinery and equipment.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2011 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Managers in agriculture

2011 NOC: 0821

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 15 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 04, 2021 and Sep 28, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Equipment and Machinery Experience: Tractor
Equipment and Machinery Experience: Truck
Maintain farm machinery, equipment and buildings
Perform general farm duties
Personal Suitability: Organized
Personal Suitability: Flexibility
Personal Suitability: Initiative
Personal Suitability: Judgement
Monitoring animal health
Personal Suitability: Effective interpersonal skills
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • Minimum Education Varies

Grain and forage crop production is a specialized, high-investment business. Producers need a good working knowledge of:

  • Soil and crop management
  • Plant nutrition
  • Disease and pest control
  • Business and financial management
  • Environmental issues and compliance requirements
  • Crop marketing
  • Commodity markets
  • Machinery operation and maintenance
  • Computer operation

Individuals may gain knowledge and experience by working on farms or taking related education programs. Project management as well as organizational and negotiation skills are a definite asset.

The Government of Alberta offers the Green Certificate Program. The program provides apprenticeship-style training. It combines hands-on farm mentorship with formal education.

The program is free and available to students at all Alberta high schools. Various specializations, such as field crop production and irrigated field crop production, are offered at each level. Graduates of the Level I Green Certificate Program are certified as farm production technicians. They may earn credits toward their high school diploma for each specialization they complete. Level II (farm production supervisor) and III (agribusiness manager) Green Certificates are also available. They are meant for people interested in a career in agriculture.

To participate in the Green Certificate Program, trainees must be at least 15 years of age and in grade 10, 11, or 12. The training takes about a year. That allows trainees to experience all 4 seasons on a farm.

For more information on registration requirements and other details, students may visit the Green Certificate Program website or ask their guidance counsellor.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • Certification Not Regulated

Alberta regulates some specialized crops, such as sugar beets, under supply management systems. Specialized crop producers may need to register with an industry organization. For example, seed growers must be registered with the Canadian Seed Growers Association.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Some grain and forage crop producers own their own operation with purchased or rented land; others work as farm managers. The high cost of land and equipment make it difficult to start a grain operation. Many young farmers take over family farms or are part of a family co-operative operation or corporation.

To protect their income, most grain and forage crop producers diversify their operations. They grow different crops during the same season. This helps minimize the risks by allowing different marketing options. It also lowers the chance of a complete crop failure. For example, forage crops may be rotated with grain production, or hay and grain may be produced for livestock consumption.

Due to the risk level of this business, crop insurance is usually recommended.

For those seeking work on large farms as labourers, technicians, supervisors, or managers, local Employment and Social Development Canada offices are helpful. These offices bring together farmer-employers and potential employees. Some of these positions are seasonal.

Grain and forage crop producers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 0821: Managers in agriculture. In Alberta, 97% of people employed in this classification work in the Agricultural [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment, especially in the Agriculture industry
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 0821: Managers in agriculture occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of -0.8% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, -219 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Annual incomes for grain and forage crop producers vary greatly. They depend on the type of operation, current market prices, weather conditions, and operating expenses. The timing of seeding and harvesting can mean the difference between profit and loss.

Managers’ salaries often vary according to business size.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Managers in agriculture

2016 NOC: 0821
Average Wage
$33.59
Per Hour
Average Salary
$73,729.00
Per Year
Average Hours
42.9
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 0821 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.23 $48.08 $26.81 $25.64
Overall $19.38 $57.69 $33.59 $28.00
Top $23.08 $63.46 $37.90 $32.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES
Agriculture

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
18%
18%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
37%
37%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
4%
4%
Vacancy Rate
3%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Alberta Canola Producers Commission (ACPC) website: albertacanola.com

Canadian Seed Growers’ Association website: seedgrowers.ca

Alberta Barley website: www.albertabarley.com

Alberta Wheat Commission website: www.albertawheat.com

Alberta Pulse Growers website: albertapulse.com

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2019. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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