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What do you pay for farm labor?

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  • What do you pay for farm labor?

    Not just stalls but an 'everything worker'-from stalls to mowing to weedeating...overall grounds caretaker and stall cleaner.

    I am looking for general hourly rate-not full time live in type help.

  • #2
    $12.50 an hour
    Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.


    • #3
      We have a guy that helps us with various things (mowing, fence painting, building fene, stalls, de-cobwebbing barn, etc.) for $12/hour.


      • #4


        • #5
          By the time we pay all the stuff we are supposed to pay on them, and I wouldn't do it any other way, it adds up to about 16 bucks an hour.


          • Original Poster

            Great! Thank you!

            It has been awhile since I have paid hourly and wanted to be sure I was 'in the market' and not short-changing my very very good help.


            • Original Poster

              Originally posted by Tom King View Post
              By the time we pay all the stuff we are supposed to pay on them, and I wouldn't do it any other way, it adds up to about 16 bucks an hour.
              This was my other question-is the $12/hour 'clean' and above board or quiet.


              • #8
                I think Tom is talking about payroll taxes and workers comp insurance. That does raise the rate quite a bit from the base wage. Employers match FICA and Social Security withheld from the employees pay. In most cases, as an agricultural employer under certain limits you can avoid workers comp insurance.

                FWIW, I paid 8/hr early this year (before payroll taxes) and most folks around here felt that was a fair wage. I do not live in an expensive area though so you have to take that into consideration. This person also got some fringe benefits as live in help. My effective pay rate was probably closer to $10/11 per hour when you figured it all in.

                Now, rather than have an "employee," I'd pay by the "job" for someone coming in for tasks as contract labor. For example to do a bunch of water troughs, clean and scrub and refill, I might pay $40 to 50 for 4-5 hours work. As contract labor, I am not required to withhold payroll taxes but I will have to cut a 1099 Misc for them at the end of the year. There used to be a certain level required for a 1099 ($800 if memory serves) but I believe that has changed and I have not researched it yet.


                • Original Poster

                  I hate to bring you had news DB, but that is still an employee and not contract labor.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Daydream Believer View Post
                    Now, rather than have an "employee," I'd pay by the "job" for someone coming in for tasks as contract labor. For example to do a bunch of water troughs, clean and scrub and refill, I might pay $40 to 50 for 4-5 hours work. As contract labor, I am not required to withhold payroll taxes but I will have to cut a 1099 Misc for them at the end of the year. There used to be a certain level required for a 1099 ($800 if memory serves) but I believe that has changed and I have not researched it yet.
                    http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1099gi.pdf pg 16 says $600 a year.

                    Just because you pay by the job doesn't make someone a contractor... but my experience is in office work so it may not apply to farm/agricultural jobs at all. (Do you have to pay time and a half after 40 hours for farm labor? That's where people get in trouble declaring someone a contractor or exempt employee to skirt the overtime laws.)

                    And to answer the original question, I pay $12.50 an hour to a friend's son who comes over to help build new fence, get the bermuda grass out of the garden, dig up tree stumps, etc.
                    ... and Patrick


                    • #11
                      I hate to break it to you Leah, but yes it can be contract labor. It's all in how you set it up and work it out.

                      These are the conditions to be evaluated as to whether someone is a contractor or an employee.


                      I see no reason why a person coming onto my farm to do odd jobs with little supervision and working when they want to come (set their own hours) can't be considered a contractor. Sure...if I say, "you have to be here for chores from x time to x time these days of the week," than that is an employee, but that is not what I'm saying. I'm saying, "do this agreed upon job (clean water troughs) for $$ amount at your pace and more or less set your own hours." I pay for that task only. That is no different than hiring a handyman contractor to make repairs on your property or lawn service to come in and mow and do grounds maintenance...something LMH may want to consider versus the trouble of hiring an employee unless you want someone around at times it's convenient for you and doing set tasks regularly.

                      When you control hours worked, who this person works for, equipment used, benefits, etc...than Yes, you have an employee...but if you hire someone to do a job and that are "independent" and they perform similar services for other folks, than they can be considered a contractor.

                      It can be a muddled area and when I was working in the building industry years ago for a General Contractor we had this issue come up with a carpenter who worked only for my boss and on his jobs. He wanted to be a contractor since it benefited his taxes but since he was not truly independent of my boss who he worked for exclusively. He was ruled an employee and we had to take out taxes and put him on our payroll.


                      • Original Poster

                        Well I am not going to argue but I have looked into this pretty extensively-and in recent years (as in the last year) there has been more negative thoughts on classifying someone as an IC...having the IRS reclassify someone can bring some pretty stiff penalties.

                        Now if the person is set up as his own business and brings his own tools and and works many farms and several other standards, indeed he could be an IC.

                        BUT I would bet money that the IRS would classify day labor on your farm as an employee.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by LMH View Post

                          Now if the person is set up as his own business and brings his own tools and and works many farms and several other standards, indeed he could be an IC.

                          BUT I would bet money that the IRS would classify day labor on your farm as an employee.
                          We actually agree and what I'm talking about is the former paragraph you typed. I know several young people who do odd jobs for several farms that I'd only bring in once and a while for stuff I can't get to myself. As long as it's set up the right way, I don't see why it can't work as an IC. A good example would be a farmsitter..not an employee but someone who does this sort of thing for others also on a "job" basis.

                          Don't get me wrong, I had an employee for quite a while and I have an employer ID # for my farm. I know how to do all the payroll taxes and when they are due and have done so...but I'm only discussing this as "what if" sort of situation. You can indeed have someone come in and do odd jobs without having to do the full payroll tax drill if you hire someone who does that sort of thing independently. That is the only point I'm trying to make.

                          One tip...if you do hire an employee, use For 943 for Agricultural employees to submit your Fed Tax, FICA and SS. It will save you having to file quarterly returns (941's) and you'll only have to file in January for the year at one time.


                          • #14
                            Good Lord, DB, I think you need to stop giving tax advice on the COTHBB. You really don't know what you're talking about.
                            \"I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with someone who is unarmed.\"--Pogo


                            • #15
                              Gee Mary, can you point out what I said that was wrong since you are such a freaking expert?

                              Sorry I tried to help LMH. I'm officially done trying to give a crap anymore. I really am beginning to hate this forum and the BS.


                              • Original Poster

                                Originally posted by Daydream Believer View Post
                                As long as it's set up the right way, I don't see why it can't work as an IC.
                                THIS is what gets people in trouble...you can't 'set it up right' to avoid having an employer/employee classification.

                                There is actually a pretty good discussion on the IRS website-it goes WAY beyond just whether someone is doing a few jobs in several places.

                                When someone comes to do your barn work, do you provide the shavings, muck bucket? Direct where the shavings go? Things like that? Then you are leaning to employer. Even IF they are also employees on other farms.

                                It could go either way, maybe...but getting close to employee as opposed to IC.

                                A kid coming to mow your lawn using your lawn mower-employee

                                Johnny's Yard Care-Johnny brings his own tools and equipment-likely IC

                                Hire kid to paint your barn and leave? maybe IC-but a continuing ongoing relationship where you direct what should be done and when (as opposed to the house painter that just shows up when he finished the former job)...leaning to employee.

                                All I can say is if you set up farm help (in most cases) as an IC, they leave or get fired and file for unemployment, dollars to donuts you will have a misclassification issue on your hands.

                                You don't want that. The last I looked fines can be up to $20,000 for misclassification.

                                Regarding the Form 943-are you sure that eliminates quarterly returns?

                                I am not sure if this would be the correct form for a private (non-profit generating) farm or if the eomplyee would fall under the household employee category (still not requiring quarterly reports)

                                I do know you would still need an EIN for a household employee.


                                • Original Poster

                                  Ah---found the answer...



                                  • Original Poster

                                    ok still not sure if someone working on a 'non-working farm' would be a farmworker or a household employee...it seems to me that person could still be a 'caretaker' and subject to the 'nanny tax'

                                    Maybe a CPA can pipe in!


                                    • #19
                                      Taxes/contract work all aside.
                                      I would like to know who you got to back their backs for $8/hour?? Were they legal?
                                      Last edited by Cruiser12; Dec. 20, 2010, 09:03 PM. Reason: can't spell


                                      • #20
                                        I am a $%&^%$# CPA but since I'm no longer offering any advice on this miserable forum, I guess you'll have to figure it out on your own. Sorry, I'm done.
                                        Last edited by Ridge Runner; Dec. 21, 2010, 10:19 AM.