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Dairy Farm Owner Salary

by Rick Suttle

Dairy cases in American grocery stores wouldn't be stocked with such complete arrays of milks, cheeses, butters and ice creams without dairy farm owners. These entrepreneurs primarily feed and care for Holstein, Ayrshire, Jersey, Guernsey and other breeds of dairy cows on their farms. They also plant and grow the hay used for feeding, maintain the barns, operate refrigeration equipment and breed the animals. If you want to become a dairy farm owner, you will first need to get experience on a dairy farm. Annual incomes can vary widely but average above $50,000 annually.

Income and Qualifications

Dairy farmers pay themselves from the profits of their operations. The average annual incomes for dairy farmers were $54,000 as of 2013, according to the job website Indeed.com. Most of these entrepreneurs have high school educations but have spent years working for family-owned dairy farms or as employed dairy farm workers. You can earn a college or university bachelor's degree in agronomy, dairy farm management or agriculture through a state-issued land-grant. Business, machinery-operating, interpersonal and analytical skills are also required to perform this job effectively.

Income by State

Average incomes for dairy farmers vary considerably by state. They earned some of the highest annual incomes, of $64,000, in New York, according to Indeed.com. If you owned a dairy farm in Massachusetts or California, you would also earn a relatively high income, of $62,000 or $54,000 per year, respectively. Your earnings would be closer to the national average for dairy farm owners in North Carolina, at $52,000 annually. And expect to make less in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania or Nebraska -- $49,000, $48,000 and $44,000, respectively.

Contributing Factors

Your income as a dairy farmer is highly contingent upon the subsidies you receive from the government -- and by the size of your farm. The more cows you have, the more you make. Prices, however, can vary among states, which can also impact your income as a dairy farmer. Higher prices will generally yield higher profits if you efficiently manage your labor, supplies and equipment costs. Prices are typically higher in states with many smaller dairy farms, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Larger farms tend to drive prices down because of the economies of scale they enjoy -- purchasing products in quantities for lower per-unit costs.

Job Outlook

The BLS expects jobs for farmers, including dairy farm owners, to decrease 8 percent. Your best chance to enter this industry is probably purchasing an existing dairy farm -- versus starting one from scratch. States with the most dairy farms include California, Utah, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, New York, New Mexico, Arizona and Vermont, according to "Dairy Farming Today."

Photo Credits

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