by: Barry Ward, Leader, Production Business Management OSU Extension, Agriculture and Natural Resources and John Barker, Extension Educator Agriculture/Amos Program Ohio State University Extension Knox County
Farming is a complex business and many Ohio farmers utilize outside assistance for specific farm-related work. This option is appealing for tasks requiring specialized equipment or technical expertise. Often, having someone else with specialized tools perform a tasks is more cost effective and saves time. Farm work completed by others is often referred to as “custom farm work” or more simply, “custom work”. A “custom rate” is the amount agreed upon by both parties to be paid by the custom work customer to the custom work provider.
Ohio Farm Custom Rates
This survey summary reports custom rates based on a statewide survey of 352 farmers, custom operators, farm managers, and landowners conducted in 2018. These rates, except where noted, include the implement and tractor if required, all variable machinery costs such as fuel, oil, lube, twine, etc., and the labor for the operation.
Some custom rates published in this study vary widely, possibly influenced by:
- Type or size of equipment used (e.g. 20-shank chisel plow versus a 9-shank)
- Size and shape of fields,
- Condition of the crop (for harvesting operations)
- Skill level of labor
- Amount of labor needed in relation to the equipment capabilities
- Cost margin differences for full-time custom operators compared to farmers supplementing current income
Some custom rates reflect discounted rates as the parties involved have family relationships or are strengthening a relationship to help secure the custom farmed land in a cash or other rental agreement. Some providers charge differently because they are simply attempting to spread their fixed costs over more acreage to decrease fixed costs per acre and are willing to forgo complete cost recovery.
The measures shown in the summary tables of the survey respondents. The measures are the average (or mean), standard deviation (a statistical measure of variability of the responses), range, median, minimum, and maximum. Average custom rates reported in this publication are a simple average of all the survey responses. Range identified in the tables consists of two numbers. The first is the average plus the standard deviation, which is the variability of the data from the average measure. The second number of the range is the average minus the standard deviation. The median represents the middle value in the survey responses. The minimum and maximum reported in the table are the minimum and maximum amounts reported from the survey data for a given custom operation.
Charges may be added if the custom provider considers a job abnormal such as distance from the operator’s base location, difficulty of terrain, amount of product or labor involved with the operation, or other special requirements of the custom work customer.
As a custom provider, the average rates reported in this publication may not cover total costs for performing the custom service. As a customer, you may not be able to hire a custom service for the average rate published. Calculate your own costs carefully before determining the rate to charge or pay.
The complete summary of Ohio Farm Custom Rates is available online at the Farmoffice website: