Classifying Your Workers, by Erin Hannum and Rachel Armstrong of Farm Commons. What’s the difference between an employee and an intern or volunteer under the law? What is an independent contractor? This guide national guide helps farmer identify the kind of workers they have, and the legal implications of each. State-specific guides are also available for ... Read more
Here you'll find links to articles, fact sheets and other resources related to being a farm employer.
Please note: These resources are provided for educational and informational purposes only and are not legal counseling. No attorney-client relationship is created, nor is there any offer to provide legal services by the distribution of these publications. Always consult an attorney before relying on the information in these resources.
A key role of management is setting the emotional tone for the workplace - something that's critical during times of uncertainty and anxiety. This blog post from UVM Extension's Mary Peabody provides four healthy communication practices that can establish trust and openness in the workplace, and to address anxiety, fear and uncertainty among employees. Read the post.
A personnel policy manual insures that all employees are aware of the policies and expectations of your business. A manual enhances your professionalism, creates consistency in communications, and protects you from appearing arbitrary in your treatment of employees. Drafting this manual will provide you and your management team the opportunity to think through your policies in advance and create a pleasant, productive work environment. To help you get started, here are links to some policy manual templates: The... Read more
In developing your workforce plan, you want to make sure that you have adequate cash on hand to cover your payroll expenses. A cash flow projection (or cash flow budget) is an estimate of the amount of money you expect to flow in and out of your business. It includes all your projected income and expenses. Monthly cash flow projections can help identify when you can expect to experience cash shortfalls in your production year. If you anticipate a temporary cash shortage, you might explore opening a line of credit or a short-term operating loan to help bridge the gap. Planning ahead is a... Read more
A video from the Farm Manager Video Series This short video addresses how to identify and deal with workplace problems. University of New Hampshire's Pat McCabe provides practical advice on how to diagnose the problem and its causes, and then how to work with employees to resolve it.
Maintaining physical distance is an important step in limiting the spread of COVID-19. But how does physical distancing work on a farm when new employees need training, coaching and oversight? This short blog post offers some strategies to help get crews off to the right start and keep them productive through the season. Read the post.
A video from the Farm Manager Video Series This video shares a process farmers can use to end employment legally and professionally.
Produced by University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension and University of Vermont Extension, the Farm Labor Video Series is six short (about 5 minutes) video lessons on key aspects of managing employees on farms. Topics include: Reference checks; Training your employees; Preventing and responding to harassment; Providing feedback to employees; Dealing with problems; and, Ending employment
This 36-page booklet explains what machinery management is, why it is important, and the basics of selecting, maintaining, operating and replacing farm equipment and machinery.
A three-session online workshop series so-sponsored by University of Vermont Extension and UNH Cooperative Extension. Would you like to avoid some of those labor headaches that pop up every season? Are you ready to take your labor management to the next level? Getting the Best from Yourself and Your Employees is a three-session workshop based on the DiSC Workplace Profile. Instructors Mary Peabody (UVM Extension) and Seth Wilner (UNH Extension) will guide you through an assessment of your preferences, your strengths and stressors. Then you'll ... Read more
Interviews are one of the most important steps in the hiring process. They provides an opportunity to get to know applicants before you make a commitment and invest in a new employee. When it comes time to interview you need to be careful not to let any unconscious bias or distractions enter into your decision-making. It is important to treat every applicant the same during the interview process. This means asking the same questions in approximately the same order, keeping the environment as similar as possible (for example, not having some interviews in person and... Read more
This educational guide covers the broad range of legal topics relevant to agricultural producers in New Hampshire, including: labor and employment law, legal organizational and business structures; taxation and the farm business; interstate commerce (sales and transit regulations); weights and measures; food labeling; homestead operations; organic certification; farmers markets; milk and milk product regulations; animal health; meat and poultry safety; carcass composting; land use and zoning; and NH municipal laws. Published in 2017. You can access a downloadable pdf of the guide... Read more
If you are new to the legal aspects being a farm employer, you will want to gain an understanding the following topics at a minimum: workers compensation, minimum wage, paperwork needed at the start of employment, employee versus independent contractor, laws regarding volunteers and interns, and overtime rules for agricultural labor and non-agricultural labor. You can find information for your state by calling your state’s Department of Labor. You can also go to the following web sites: https://farmcommons.org. ... Read more
This web page includes fact sheets, webinar recordings and other materials related to COVID-19 labor management topics. Topics include FAQs for H-2A Employers and guidance for ag worker protection during the pandemic.
Having a system in place to orient new employees does several important things for your business. First, it ensures each employee hears the important information and completes all the necessary forms. This saves you from problems down the road when an important form is missing or some important policy does not get communicated. Second, having a system in place saves you from having to reinvent the wheel each time a new employee comes onboard—a checklist will save you time and give your business a professional, organized feel. Finally, in the event that you are unable to do the orientation... Read more
A video from the Farm Manager Video Series Learn about methods to prevent sexual harassment on your farm, and to how to identify and handle it if it occurs. University of New Hampshire's Pat McCabe discusses how farmers can protect your business by promoting a work environment free of sexually inappropriate behavior, making sure your workers know what types of behavior is expected of them, providing resources and support to all of your workers and knowing your state's laws.
From the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, this checklist can help you identify and share information about farm chores and their importance to farm operations. The checklist is oriented to livestock farms, but can easily be adapted other kinds of operations. Use it help inform regular employees -- and relief help in the case of an emergency.... Read more
A video from the Farm Manager Video Series This video provides strategies for providing effective feedback to farm employees that motivates employees amd helps them improve performance.
Recruiting employees is very much like marketing your products. If you want to attract the interest of reliable, hard workers, you should be prepared to present your farm in a professional manner. It means being consistent in your job titles and descriptions, using a standard application form that collects the same information from all applicants and making sure that your farm name and contact information are clearly displayed. You also want to make sure that you set aside time for reviewing applications and conducting interviews so marking these events on your calendar will help you... Read more
A video from the Farm Manager Video Series This video shares tips for how to use reference checks to learn more about a prospective job applicant. You'll learn about the kinds of information that can be gained through a reference check, its limitations, and how to incorporate it in your overall assessment of and decision-making about an applicant.
Once applications begin rolling in you will need a system for selecting those applicants that you’d like to interview. Your job descriptions should lead you to a list of qualifications which will help you screen applicants. If you do not have a large pool and decide to interview all applicants you will still need to identify your criteria and determine how you want to prioritize who you will select for interviews. Keep in mind that these tools are designed to help you treat all applicants fairly and to help you be efficient with your time.
Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs are documents that outline how to complete a task. These protocols are a simple way to ensure that routine farm processes happen the same way each time. A well-written SOP can help you save time, train workers, and deliver a more consistent product. This University of Maine Cooperative Extension webpage explains what kinds of tasks SOPs should be created for, describes the characteristics of quality SOPS and provides a template for drafting SOPs. Go to the... Read more
Tax and Paperwork Checklist for Hiring an Ag Employee, by Erin Hannum and Rachel Armstrong of Farm Commons. The checklist guides farmers through the initial steps of hiring an employee. It illustrates selected, immediate paperwork responsibilities of the farmer at the time of hiring. You'll learn about the ongoing record keeping, withholding, payment and other legal responsibilities of having employees, and you can get help. State specific guides are available for ... Read more
The Chittenden County (Vermont) Opioid Alliance (CCOA) developed the 43-page Employer Toolkit to provide employers with tools necessary to employing people in recovery from substance use disorders. Please note, the guide is specific to Vermont and was not developed with a farm audience in mind. However, you may find tips and ideas that can related to agricultural employment situations and beyond Vermont's borders. It address issues related to hiring and managing employees.... Read more
This 2020 Iowa State University publication outlines nine practices agricultural employers should cover during training with employees who operate tractors. These practices help prevent tractor overturns and the resulting injuries and fatalities.
A video from the Farm Manager Video Series Training your crews to do their jobs effectively from the start is a key way to avoid problems later. This short video shares a variety of practical strategies for effectively training farm employees so that they contribute to the success of the farm.
This booklet is aimed at small farm operators and explains how to assess the quality and safety of used farm machinery. It explains how to conduct an inspection of used machinery, and what it can tell you about the prior maintenance, repairs, and overall quality and condition of the machine. Throughout, the guide provides illustrations -- showing clues to a machine that has been well-maintained and those for improper repairs and sloppy maintenance. The booklet also explains how to calculate and compare average annual for tractors. The booklet was... Read more
Learning to be an effective manager often requires a mental shift in how we see ourselves. Chances are good that you got into farming because you liked the work of farming. Once you have employees, your job will require more time spent managing the work of others. You may well find yourself helping others to be successful at the tasks that you once enjoyed doing while your own time will be spent hiring, training, recordkeeping and managing. Learning to enjoy wearing the manager’s hat may take some practice but it can be done. Special consideration should be given to situations... Read more