Owning and operating large pieces of farm equipment such as combines and harvesters can be an expensive investment for farmers. For farmers who opt to outsource harvesting tasks, there are custom harvesters ready to take on the work.

A custom harvester is a professional who harvests the crops that feed consumers in the U.S. and across the globe. The majority of custom harvesters in the U.S. are part of the U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc. (USCHI), which was officially started in Texas in 1983 to serve as a link between farms, businesses, and the State and Federal Government.

JD harvester used by custom harvesters

Custom harvesters will either work for a harvesting company or as an independent contractor for hire. In both cases, custom harvesters will often work on the same farm for many years if there’s a positive work relationship with the farmer. On large dairy farms, for example, the expanse of land can be a daunting harvesting task for a farmer who is already weighed down by other responsibilities. By hiring a custom harvester, farmers can take the harvesting work off their shoulders, as they do not have to invest in the purchase and upkeep of harvesting equipment.

The lifestyle of a custom harvester can vary depending on the type of work one is willing to do. Some farms seek custom harvesters to remain on the farm throughout the duration of the harvesting season and will provide the workers with meals and lodging. Other harvesters may seek employment with a company that has a fleet of machinery and deploys its employees daily to multiple work sites to operate combines, tractors, and trucks.

JD forage custom harvester

Members of the U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc. are expected to not only harvest crops but to be educated in safety and labor issues, emerging technologies, Federal and State legislative and regulation issues, equipment productivity, and specific industry financial analysis.  The U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc. also awards scholarship funds to applicants who have relatives in USCHI and display academic excellence.

The work of custom harvesters allows farms to provide businesses and consumers with the crops they need by allowing farmers to allocate their attention to other areas. Custom harvesters provide a service of collaboration among all parties involved in order to produce the best possible outcome.

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