Farming Across Cultures Communication Project
and the Vermont Agricultural Labor Management Program
The Farming Across Cultures Communication Project (FACCP) began in Franklin County in May 2010 with an overall objective of increased communication, understanding, and training on farms with Latino employees, in the areas of work, health and the home. At the time, there were an estimated 1,200 Latino farmworkers on dairy farms in Vermont.
In July of 2012, FACCP evolved into a new statewide program: The VT Agricultural Labor Management Program (VT ALMa). Like FACCP, the focus of VT ALMa was to promote communication, cultural competency and effective labor management. The program consisted of three components - a series of workshops offered throughout the state, customized on-farm communication and labor management services and Spanish language worker trainings for Latino dairy employees.
FACCP and the VT ALMa program ended in 2013, however, the educational tools, resources and links will remain on this website for reference.
Farming Across Cultures Communication Project
Attn: Naomi Wolcott-MacCausland
278 South Main Street, Suite 2
St. Albans, VT 05450
(802) 524-6501 ext 447
Vermont Agency of Agriculture and the Vermont Migrant Education Program believe that roughly half of Vermont dairy farms have come to rely heavily on Latino migrant farm workers. Many Vermont farms have or are undergoing a massive transformation in this regard while at the same time they struggle through severe economic hardships. The FACCP seeks to further UVM Extension's mission to "improve quality of life of Vermonters by providing research-based educational programs and practical information" to Vermont's farming community. This project highlights the essential goal of improved personal and technical communication, celebrates Vermont farms' diverse work force, and will provide much needed in person and online educational resources for VT farmers and their Spanish speaking employees.
Hispanic dairy farm labor issues in the northeast were first formally reported in Thomas Maloney & David Grusenmeyer's 2005 Survey of Hispanic Dairy Workers in New York State. Through their research, funded through Cornell University's Department of Applied Economics, a great deal was learned about Hispanic dairy workers. Besides legal difficulties, the top two challenges expressed by both farm workers and their employers were language and communication issues. The pressing need for dynamic communication services was also recently confirmed in preliminary results by UVM's Community Development and Applied Economics departments 2008-2010 Vermont Dairy Farm Labor survey led by Professor Danielle Baker and David Chappelle. Their research further confirms that language issues and cultural misunderstandings are a matter of fact on Vermont dairies that employ Spanish speaking labor. Language barriers diminish production and decrease job satisfaction for both employers and their employees. Professionals connected to the dairy industry across the state of Vermont consistently witness how language barriers and culture differences often turn relatively simple situations into large disruptions. A study done by this project in Franklin County shows that few farms have a labor management plan or training and communication systems in place.
A sick cow, a serious injury, lack of understanding of production systems, lack of awareness about culturally competent health care clinics, or absence of feedback from Latino farm workers all translate to economic loss and more stressful work places for both farmers and farm workers. We believe that many of these problems can be successfully addressed by improving communication and mutual understanding between farmers and Spanish speaking farm workers, which is essential to the economic success and social well-being of both.
In addition to providing general communication support to farmers and Latino farm workers in Franklin County, the FACCP is currently implementing a pilot communication and labor management support project on 5 farms in Franklin and Grand Isle Counties. The pilot project provides support to participating farms in the following four categories:
- WORK: Monthly interpreted meetings with a new training topic each time, labor management support, and development of written farm specific information (SOP's, work expectations, safety precautions)
- COMMUNICATION: On call Interpretation for producer and/or manager and worker for immediate work, health and home communication needs
- HEALTH: Health and dental referrals, scheduling, payment assistance, health care related paperwork translation, NOTCH primary care coordination.
- HOME: Presentations and discussions with interested workers about house upkeep, safety, and health, bilingual written house safety and upkeep guidelines and expectations, development of more comprehensive bilingual food purchasing lists
Last modified April 10 2015 10:58 AM