From seed to sale: Careers in the produce
Steven Marcroft | October 2020
We’re used to seeing grocery and restaurant employees working to offer fresh fruits and vegetables. But we rarely
see the many workers whose jobs supply that produce.
Thousands of workers contribute to growing, transporting, and selling fresh fruits and vegetables. Their
occupations include agricultural equipment operators preparing fields for planting, truck drivers delivering food to
vendors, and stockers readying produce for display in the market. And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
projects numerous openings in these produce supply-chain occupations each year from 2019 to 2029.
Keep reading for data on employment, job outlook, and wages in these occupations, along with information about
the education, training, and work experience typically required for entry.
U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
From the farm...
Before planting any crop, certain workers need to prepare the farmland. Agricultural equipment operators use
tractors, cultivators, and other farm machinery to till the soil and set the rows for planting. Mechanics and
technicians maintain and repair the equipment.
Farmworkers and laborers do a variety of tasks that include planting, fertilizing, irrigating, and harvesting. After
harvesting crops, farmworkers and laborers immediately pack and load them for transporting to a cooling and
processing facility. There, graders sort and classify the unprocessed fruits or vegetables, and inspectors ensure
that the produce is handled in a way that complies with federal safety and health standards.
Other workers help farm operations run smoothly. For example, farm labor contractors may hire additional workers
to assist with planting, growing, or picking crops. First-line supervisors direct and coordinate the daily activities of
agricultural workers. And farmers and agricultural managers organize crop production in the fields they oversee.
Table 1 shows data for these farm-related occup