What do Farmworkers do?

Felicia Dye

Running a commercial farm can be a complex affair. The manner in which this is accomplished varies since farming is done in many different parts of the world and involves many different products. There are, therefore, many types of farmworkers who can be employed for a wide range of duties, such as plowing, harvesting, or driving.

Some farmworkers care for pigs and other livestock.
Some farmworkers care for pigs and other livestock.

Farming often involves plowing soil, planting seeds, caring for plants, and controlling pests. Farmworkers may be responsible for any or all of these tasks. On some farms, workers are required to feed, water, and otherwise care for commercial livestock such as sheep, cattle, and pigs.

Some crops have to be picked by hand.
Some crops have to be picked by hand.

Farm managers typically are individuals who have the responsibility of ensuring that operations on a farm run well. Large farming ventures often require management teams. These people generally do not have a set list of duties. They can be engaged in anything from overseeing other workers to ordering supplies to troubleshooting irrigation system. A farm also commonly employs financial managers to maintain the economic affairs related to farming.

A farmer uses a tractor to till a field before planting.
A farmer uses a tractor to till a field before planting.

Much of the work that needs to be accomplished on some farms is concentrated within a certain period of the year. This creates the need for seasonal farmworkers. When developed countries border less-developed countries, it is common for farmworkers to migrate to the more developed countries during the season in which their labor is needed and then return home when the season is over.

Farmworkers often are called upon to provide feed for livestock.
Farmworkers often are called upon to provide feed for livestock.

A common task for seasonal farmworkers is harvesting. It can be imperative for a farm to have the necessary labor available when crops have matured and are ready to be sent to market. If this is not done, the results could include massive losses for the farm and adverse effects on the food supply of a nation.

In the 19th century, farmworkers might have have used a mechanical reaper to harvest grain.
In the 19th century, farmworkers might have have used a mechanical reaper to harvest grain.

The types of farmworkers hired during harvest time can include harvesters and loaders. Harvesters are the people who actually remove crops from the trees, vines, or plants. Loaders are the people who package or load the crops to be transported away from the farm.

Farmworkers might be responsible for spraying pesticide on crops.
Farmworkers might be responsible for spraying pesticide on crops.

There usually are numerous structures, tools, and machines on the farm that need to be cared for. It is common for farms to employ maintenance staff to do this. Vehicle mechanics and other maintenance tasks may be carried out by separate individuals, but it is not uncommon for a person to engage in all of these tasks.

Draft cattle may pull plows and other farm equipment.
Draft cattle may pull plows and other farm equipment.

Drivers also may be seasonally employed. They may only be needed at harvest time when crops need to be taken to market. In many cases, however, farms need drivers for many tasks throughout the year, such as hauling fuel, animal feed, or pesticides.

Farmworkers may be responsible for milking cattle.
Farmworkers may be responsible for milking cattle.
Farm management workers track production and financial statistics for the farm.
Farm management workers track production and financial statistics for the farm.
Farmworkers ensure that fresh vegetables and other produce are harvested and brought to market.
Farmworkers ensure that fresh vegetables and other produce are harvested and brought to market.
Farmworkers may be hired to pick fruit.
Farmworkers may be hired to pick fruit.
At harvest time, some farmworkers are hired on a temporary basis to transport vegetables and other crops to market.
At harvest time, some farmworkers are hired on a temporary basis to transport vegetables and other crops to market.

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