April 22 2014 07:55 AM

Many companies are looking at ways to recruit and retain talented employees.

Not everyone is a farmer, but a love for animals and people has drawn many to a career in agriculture. According to a recent survey, the agriculture industry is a pretty good place to make a living right now, too.

Eighty-five companies from an array of agricultural fields participated in the 2013-2024 AgCareers.com U.S. Agribusiness HR Review. Information was collected through direct communication with the agribusinesses by an online survey.

More than 90 percent of participating companies said their employee salaries had grown in the past 12 months. Almost all (98 percent) said that some or all of their employees would see a salary bump in the next year. According to the anticipated budgets, these companies expect salaries to go up an estimated 3.1 to 3.5 percent.

Besides pay, the companies provided other benefits to motivate and maintain employees, as well. Health insurance, 401k retirement and bonuses were the top benefits offered across the companies surveyed. Other incentives included flexible hours, recognition programs and the ability to work from home. Employees received an average of six to eight paid holidays per year.

Another positive result the survey showed was job market growth within agriculture in the next year. Sixty-five percent of the participating companies expected the size of their workforce to grow in the next two years. That was up more than 6 percent from last year.

Job market growth is good news for future college graduates. In addition, 60 percent of the companies said they plan to do more recruitment specific to graduates in the next five years, opening more doors of opportunity for people right out of school.

The two most difficult roles to recruit for in these companies were sales and technical positions. To secure employees in a competitive market, the top two ways the companies said they try to attract employees are through higher compensation and better benefit packages.
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The author is an associate editor and covers animal health, dairy housing and equipment, and nutrient management. She grew up on a dairy farm near Plymouth, Wis., and previously served as a University of Wisconsin agricultural extension agent. She received a master's degree from North Carolina State University and a bachelor's from University of Wisconsin-Madison.