OSU Extension to Host Two Northwest Ohio Farm Transition Programs

by: Eric Richer, OSU Extension Fulton County & Sarah Noggle, OSU Extension Paulding County

Are you interested in starting the conversation for a successful farm transition to the next generation?  OSU Extension in Northwest Ohio is holding two separate but identical farm transition meetings to assist farmers in navigating the farm transition process.

The first night will focus on the senior generation (all are invited) including estate and Medicaid planning, communication through the process, farm financial affairs and vision/management transition. The second night will focus on the next generation (all are invited) including entity formation and use in transition planning, a recap of wills & trusts, accounting implications like capital gains, gifting and share valuation, and committing to the process. Local legal and accounting professionals will be teaching sessions along with local county Extension educators.  For either program location, the cost is $20 per farm entity for both nights and including refreshments and materials.

In Fulton County, the 2-night program will be held at the Robert Fulton Ag Center, 8770 State Route 108, Wauseon, OH 43567 on January 28th and February 11th from 6:30-9:00 pm. If you are interested in the Fulton County program, download the registration form at www.go.osu.edu/fultonagprograms2020 or visit www.fulton.osu.edu. Pre-registration closes Friday, January 24th.

In Paulding County, the 2-night program will be held at the Paulding County Extension Office, 503 Fairgrounds Drive, Paulding, OH 45879 on February 20th and 27th from 6:30-9:00 pm. If you are interested in the Paulding County program, visit www.paulding.osu.edu for registration details. Pre-registration closes February 6.

Planning for the Future of Your Farm Program Planned in Tuscarawas Country

by: Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, ANR

A two-evening “Planning for the Future of Your Farm” program will be held February 12 and 19 from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm each evening.  The program will be held at the Village of Tuscarawas Community Center on Cherry Street in Tuscarawas.

David Marrison, OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Coshocton County, will discuss developing the next generation of managers, family communications, providing income for multiple generations, keeping your farm competitive, and preparing for the unexpected.  These topics will be discussed the evening of February 12.

The evening of February 19 will feature Peggy Hall, Attorney and OSU Extension Ag Law Specialist, and Robert Moore, Attorney, Wright and Moore Law.  Peggy and Robert will discuss farm business structures, estate and transfer strategies, trusts, life insurance, tax planning, and much more.

Registration for the program is $25 per person or $35 per family.  Please make your check payable to OSU Extension-Tuscarawas County, 419 16th St. SW, New Philadelphia, OH 44663.  Please RSVP by February 5.  Questions may be directed to Chris Zoller at 330-339-2337 or zoller.1@osu.edu.

 

OSU Extension to Offer Lunch and Learn Webinars

By: Chris Bruynis, Extension Educator

In the age of multi-tasking and convenience, OSU Extension is offering a lunch and learn webinar series for farmers. We have arranged for eight topic and speakers to provide a webinar every Wednesday starting on Wednesday, February 5, 2020 and concluding March 25, 2020. Join us for eight consecutive Wednesdays for this educational series starting at 11:45 am and lasting 1.5 hours. Learn important risk management information during this lunch and learn series from top industry, private sector, and university experts important to the success of farm businesses in 2020 and beyond.

The topics that will be covered include:

February 5:         Using Financial Statements/Ratios to Make Informed Financial Decisions

February 12:      Farm Law 101: Leasing and Financing Agreements

February 19:      Grain Contracts and Markets: What to Use When

February 26:      Where to Start with Workers Compensation Benefits

March 4:             Meeting with a Lender: What Numbers are Important

March 11:           Estate Planning: What are the Tools and Options

March 18:           Grain Marketing Strategies for 2020

March 25:           Tips for Recruiting, Hiring, and Retaining Farm Business Employees

Farmers interested in participating should register at http://go.osu.edu/fm2020 by January 31, 2020.  At this website you can access detailed information on the speakers and the learning objectives for each session. There is also a registration link for the webinar at this site. The cost for all eight topics is $25 per registration and must be paid with credit card at time of registration.

Any question can be directed to Chris Bruynis or Marianne Guthrie at 740-702-3200 or email bruynis.1@osu.edu. We hope this program series will be beneficial to your farm business, whether you attend all the topic presentations or just some of them.

Change Your Employee Recruitment and Interview Mindset

by: Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator Wayne County

Originally written for Dairy Excel column for the 10-31-19 Farm and Dairy

Labor is an important component of any farm operation.  Beyond just checking the box that a certain task has been completed, farm profitability often turns on how well a task was completed, the attention to detail and protocol.  Improving employee recruiting and interviewing skills increases the chance of hiring the right employee for your farm situation.  For many farms, employee recruitment, interviewing and hiring requires a mindset adjustment.

How do you attract dependable farm employees? What is your goal and objective when you hire a farm employee?  I once heard Bernie Erven, professor emeritus of The Ohio State University, and human resource management specialist, say that too many farms do not manage the employee recruitment and interview process.  Desperate for labor, the only job requirement seemed to be that the person could walk and breathe.  Interview questions consisted of “Have you worked on a farm before? and Do you want the job?”  A management mindset involves developing a recruitment strategy and a process to find employees that are the right fit for your farm.  Donald Cooper, an international management consultant, says that businesses become what they hire.  If your goal is high performance and excellence, you need to recruit and hire above average, high quality persons.

Employee recruitment starts before there is a job vacancy.  Effective recruitment has both an outward and an inward focus.  An outward focus is about developing relationships with persons, organizations and institutions that could provide a contact or recommend a potential employee to the farm.  Some examples include FFA chapters/advisors, career centers, and farm service persons such as veterinarians, feed and equipment dealers, technicians and ag lenders.  In Wayne and surrounding counties, OSU-ATI is an obvious source of potential farm employees.  If you run into someone with the potential to be a good employee, even if you currently don’t have a vacancy, at least collect contact information.  Some farms may even create a temporary position for the person.  Inward recruitment focus is about building a reputation as a great place to work.  If someone were to drive around the county and ask the question, who is the best farm to work for, would the questioner hear the name of you or your farm?

The next important piece in recruitment and interviewing is the job description. Job descriptions guide the interviewing and hiring process.  Specific information included in a job description includes a job title, a short summary of the major job responsibilities, the qualifications for the job including knowledge, education and/or experience necessary, the specific job duties/tasks along with the frequency with which each needs to be performed, who supervises the job and/or supervisory requirements of the job and finally, something about the expectations for hours and weekly or monthly work schedule.

The job description, when well written, helps to provide a prepared list of questions for the employee candidate interview.  Questions should provide the candidate with the opportunity to talk about their skills, knowledge, experience, and personal attributes that match the job description.  According to Bob Milligan of Dairy Strategies, the interview should be designed to determine the qualifications of the candidate, their fit for not only the job requirements but also their fit within the culture of your farm.  The interview should be structured so that the farm owner or manager is promoting the farm and the position in a positive light so that the candidate is likely to accept the job if it is offered to them.

Ask questions that provide you with information about the candidate’s knowledge, ability and attitudes.  Examples of these type of questions are; what are two practices in the milking parlor that can improve milk quality?  Describe an equipment related problem you have solved in the past year.  How did you go about solving it?  I read an article by the founder of a company called Ag Hires entitled “Top 3 Interview Questions Every Farm Should Ask”.  They are: 1. In your past jobs, of the various tasks, roles and projects, what have you enjoyed doing the most and what have you enjoyed the least?  2. What is your superpower; what is it that you are naturally good at and bring to the table wherever you work?  3. If we spoke to your co-workers and managers and asked them what’s it like to work with you, how would they describe you?

These questions are designed to learn what the candidate is passionate about, what they enjoy, what they have a natural tendency toward, and how they interact with others.  Quoting that article, “farm managers have a tendency to place too much emphasis on someone’s work history and not enough emphasis on whether the person is the right fit for the farm.  Smart people with the right attitude, motivation and natural tendencies that align with the farm culture will get up to speed quickly.”

Every farm hire is an important hire.  Farm managers with employee recruitment and interviewing skills increase the rate of successful hires.

Fun in the Fall: Minimizing Liability at Your Agritourism Operation

By: Evin Bachelor, Wednesday, September 04th, 2019
Source: https://farmoffice.osu.edu/blog/wed-09042019-206pm/ohio-ag-law-blog-fun-fall-minimizing-liability-your-agritourism-operation
Whether we’re ready or not, Labor Day traditionally marks a transition from summer to fall.  Pumpkin flavored everything will soon be available at a coffee shop and restaurant near you, and Ohio’s agritourism farms will surely be busy.

Whether you are just getting your agritourism farm up and running, or a seasoned agritourism veteran, it never hurts to take a moment to think about your liability risks.  The OSU Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program has developed a number of resources, available on our publications webpage, that can help you think about ways to minimize the legal risks to you and your farm.  These resources include:

  • Ohio’s Agritourism Law – Ohio law grants liability protection for personal injuries suffered while participating in an agritourism activity.  It also provides for special taxation and zoning of lands where agritourism activities occur.  This law bulletin explains what your farm needs to do to be covered by the immunity, and how much protection it provides.  Click HERE to read the law bulletin.
  • Farm Animals and People: Liability Issues for Agritourism – Farm animals can be a valuable attraction for an agritourism operation, but having people and animals interact on the farm creates liability risks.  This factsheet explains a range of animal liability risks and provides a checklist to think about what you can do to reduce the risk of injury to your visitors, as well as reduce the risk of a lawsuit.  Click HERE to read the factsheet.
  • Agritourism and Insurance – Even with immunity laws in place, a farmer must carefully consider the farm’s insurance needs and ensure that it has adequate coverage.  This factsheet explains agritourism insurance, why it may be needed, and more.  It also provides a checklist that may help an agritourism farmer make sure that certain important insurance questions are addressed before an accident occurs.  Click HERE to read the factsheet.
  • Agritourism Immunity Laws in the United States – Many states, including Ohio, have taken steps to encourage agritourism by providing agritourism farms with some degree of immunity to liability.  We explain Ohio’s law more in depth in our law bulletin titled “Ohio’s Agritourism Law,” but this factsheet compares approaches taken in other states and provides a checklist that helps an agritourism farm think about how much protection it has under these laws.  Click HERE to read the factsheet.
  • Agritourism Activities and Zoning – Zoning is a force to be reckoned with in many states, but many states, including Ohio, have taken steps to encourage agritourism through zoning regulations.  This factsheet explains how zoning and agritourism interact across the country, including an explanation of Ohio’s current approach.  Click HERE to read the factsheet.
  • Youth Labor on the Farm: Laws Farmers Need to Know – Many Ohio agritourism farms provide employment to youth, who are able to learn about agriculture, business, and customer service through working at the farm.  Those hiring youth under the age of 18 want to make sure that they are following federal and Ohio labor laws.  Our latest law bulletin explains the youth labor laws that are unique to agriculture.  Click HERE to read the factsheet.

Food sales present some special issues that you will want to think about if you wish to sell food at your farm.  Depending upon the foods you sell, you may have to obtain a retail food establishment license for food safety purposes.  The following resources can help you think through the steps you must take to sell food at your agritourism farm:

  • Food Sales at Agritourism Operations: Legal Issues – Whether you sell fresh produce, cottage foods or baked goods, or prepare and serve food on-site, there are legal risks and requirements that may come into play.  This factsheet explains some of the legal issues you should consider before selling food at your farm, and provides a checklist of things to consider before you begin selling food.  Click HERE to read the factsheet.
  • Selling Foods at the Farm: When Do You Need a License? – This Ohio-specific factsheet explores farmers, including those operating an agritourism farm, need to register or obtain a license in order to sell food at the farm.  Click HERE to read the law bulletin.

Beyond our website, many of our peers at OSU Extension have developed a number of helpful resources for agritourism farms.  OSU Extension’s Agritourism Ready webpage, which you can access at u.osu.edu/agritourismready/, is designed to be a one stop shop for preparing an emergency management plan.  You can also read factsheets on Ohioline related to agritourism ranging from “Creating Signage for Direct Food and Agricultural Sales” to “Grants and Low-Interest Loans for Ohio Small Farms,” and “Maps, Apps and Mobile Media Marketing” to “Selling Eggs in Ohio: Marketing and Regulations.”

As new legal issues arise, we will continue to create resources that help farmers understand and mitigate their risk.  In the meantime, we wish everyone a fun and safe fall at Ohio’s agritourism farms.

“Ask the Expert” Area Seeks to Help Farmers at this year’s Farm Science Review

Each year, faculty and staff of The Ohio State University address some of the top farm management and veterinarian medicine challenges which Ohio farmers are facing during the “Ask the Expert” sessions held each day at the Farm Science Review at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center near London, Ohio.

The 20 minute “Ask the Expert” presentations at Farm Science Review are one segment of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and the College of Veterinary Medicine comprehensive extension education efforts during the three days of the Farm Science Review which will be held September 17-19 in London, Ohio.

Our experts will share science-based recommendations and solutions to the issues growers are facing regarding weather impacts, tariffs, veterinarian medicine, and low commodity prices. Producers are encouraged to attend one or more of the sessions throughout the day.

The sessions will take place in the Ohio State Area in the center of the main Farm Science Review exhibit area located at 426 Friday Avenue. This year’s featured sessions are:

Tuesday, September 17, 2019
“Tax Strategies Under the New Tax Law” presented by Barry Ward
10:00 – 10:20 a.m.

“Climate Smart- Weather, Climate & Extremes-Oh My!” presented by Aaron Wilson
10:20 – 10:40 a.m.

“Before the Pearly Gates- Getting Your Farm Affairs in Order” presented by David Marrison
10:40 – 11:00 a.m.

“Crop Inputs & Cash Rent Outlook for 2020” presented by Barry Ward
11:00 – 11:20 a.m.

“Farm Stress-We Got Your Back” presented by Dee Jepsen
11:20 – 11:40 a.m.

“The Legal Buzz on Hemp” presented by Peggy Hall
11:40 – 12:00 noon

“Current Status of African Swine Fever” presented by Scott Kenney
Noon to 12:20 p.m.

“Farm Income Forecasts: Are Farmers Experiencing Financial Stress?” presented by Ani Katchova
12:20 – 12:40 p.m.

“How Much Money Stayed on the Farm? 2018 Ohio Corn & Soybean Production Costs” presented by Dianne Shoemaker
12:40 – 1:00 p.m.

“Where Are We on U.S. Trade Policy” presented by Ian Sheldon
1:00 – 1:20 p.m.

“Farm Accounting: Quicken or Quickbooks” presented by Wm. Bruce Clevenger
1:20 – 1:40 p.m.

“Commodity Markets – Finding Silence in the Noise” by Ben Brown
1:40 – 2:00 p.m.

“GMOs, Food Animals, and Consumers” presented by Dr. Gustavo Schuenemann
2:00 – 2:20 p.m.

“Solar Leasing Options” presented by Peggy Hall & Eric Romich
2:20 – 2:40 p.m.

“Poultry Backyard Disease Management” presented by Dr. Geoffrey Lossie
2:40 – 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019
“Climate Smart- Weather, Climate & Extremes-Oh My!” presented by Aaron Wilson
10:00 – 10:20 a.m.

“The Legal Buzz on Hemp” presented by Peggy Hall
10:20 – 10:40 a.m.

“Zoonotic Diseases: Can I really get sick from my 4-H Project?” presented by Dr Jacqueline Nolting
10:40 – 11:00 a.m.

“Solar Leasing Options” presented by Peggy Hall & Eric Romich
11:00 – 11:20 a.m.

“Where Are We on U.S. Trade Policy” presented by Ben Brown
11:20 – 11:40 a.m.

“Impact of Peak Electrical Demand Charges in Agriculture” presented by Eric Romich
11:40 – 12:00 noon

“Crop Inputs & Cash Rent Outlook for 2020” presented by Barry Ward
12:00 – 12:20 p.m.

“Commodity Markets – Finding Silence in the Noise” by Ben Brown
12:20 – 12:40 p.m.

Public Perception Risk: Building Trust in Modern Agriculture by Eric Richer
12:40 – 1:00 p.m.

“Farm Stress-We Got Your Back” presented by Dee Jepsen
1:00 – 1:20 p.m.

“How Much Money Stayed on the Farm? 2018 Ohio Corn & Soybean Production Costs” presented by Dianne Shoemaker
1:20 – 1:40 p.m.

“Poultry Backyard Disease Management” presented by Dr. Geoffrey Lossie
1:40 – 2:00 p.m.

“Tax Strategies Under the New Tax Law” presented by Barry Ward
2:00 – 2:20 p.m.

“CRISPR gene editing: Are super animals within our reach?” presented by Dr. Scott Kenney
2:20 – 2:40 p.m.

“Using On-Farm Research to Make Agronomic and Return on Investment Decisions” presented by Sam Custer
2:40 – 3:00 p.m.

Thursday, September 19, 2019
“Horse Health Care and How to Feed a Horse” presented by Dr. Eric Schroeder
10:00 – 10:20 a.m.

“Farm Stress-We Got Your Back” presented by Dee Jepsen
10:20 – 10:40 a.m.

“Tax Strategies Under the New Tax Law” presented by Barry Ward
10:40 – 11:00 a.m.

“The Legal Buzz on Hemp” presented by Peggy Hall
11:00 – 11:20 a.m.

“Solar Leasing Options” presented by Peggy Hall & Eric Romich
11:20 – 11:40 a.m.

“Commodity Markets – Finding Silence in the Noise” by Ben Brown
11:40 – Noon

“Crop Inputs & Cash Rent Outlook for 2020” presented by Barry Ward
12:00 – 12:20 p.m.

“Antibiotic Use in Animals-Does it Impact for Human Health” presented by Dr. Greg Habing
12:20 to 12:40 p.m.

“Where Are We on U.S. Trade Policy” presented by Ben Brown
12:40 – 1:00 p.m.

“Swine Biosecurity” presented by Dr. Carlos Trincado
1:00 – 1:20 p.m.

“Nutritional Support for Ruminants in Winter” presented by Dr. Jeff Lakritz
1:20 – 1:40 p.m.

“How Much Money Stayed on the Farm? 2018 Ohio Corn & Soybean Production Costs” presented by Dianne Shoemaker
1:40 – 2:00 p.m.

The complete schedule for the Ask the Expert sessions and other events at the 2019 Farm Science Review can be found at: https://fsr.osu.edu/

Additional farm management information from OSU Extension can be found at ohioagmanager.osu.edu or farmoffice.osu.edu

Source:
David Marrison, OSU Extension
740-622-2265
Marrison.2@osu.edu

#leanonyourlandgrant

Back-to-school means different laws apply to youth farm workers

by: Peggy Kirk Hall, Associate Professor, Agricultural & Resource Law

Originally published at: https://farmoffice.osu.edu/blog/mon-08262019-909am/ohio-ag-law-blog%E2%80%94back-school-means-different-laws-apply-youth-farm-workers

When kids head back-to-school, it’s time for farmers to do some homework and recall the rules that apply to youth working on farms during the school year.   Once school is in session, Ohio labor laws place restrictions on the times of day and number of hours that youth under the age of 18 can work on a farm.  The laws don’t apply to parents, grandparents, or legal guardians, however.  For other farm employers, be aware that the laws vary according to the age of the minor and some require written parental consent.  Here’s a quick refresher:

16 and 17 year olds

  • Cannot work before 7:00 a.m. on school days, with the exception that they can work starting at 6:00 a.m. if they were not working past 8:00 p.m. the night before.
  • Cannot work after 11:00 p.m. on a school night, which means a night when the minor has school the next day.
  • No daily or weekly limits on the number of hours the youth can work.

14 and 15 year olds

  • Cannot work during school hours while school is in session.
  • Cannot work before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m., but can work until 9:00 p.m. from June 1 to September 1 or during any school holiday or break lasting more than 5 weekdays.
  • Cannot work more than 3 hours during a school day or more than 8 hours during a non-school day.
  • Cannot work more than 18 hours in a week while school is in session, unless the job is part of a work education program such as vocational training or work study.

12 and 13 year olds

  • The same time restrictions and daily and weekly hour limits for 14 and 15 year olds (above) apply to 12 and 13 year olds, but there is no exception to the 18 hour weekly limit for vocational training or work study programs.
  • Employer must obtain written parental consent for the youth to be working, unless the youth’s parent or legal guardian also works on the same farm.

Under 12 years old

  • Can only work on a farm where employees are exempt from the federal minimum wage, which includes a farms of an immediate family member or a “small farm” that used fewer than 500 “man days” of agricultural labor in any calendar quarter the preceding year.  A “man day” is a day during which an employee performs agricultural work for at least one hour.
  • Exception to the above:  local youths 10 and 11 may hand harvest short-season crops outside school hours for no more than 8 weeks between June 1 and October 15 if their employers have obtained special waivers from the U.S. Secretary of Labor.
  • The same daily time restrictions and daily and weekly hour limits for 14 and 15 year olds (above) apply to youth under 12 years old, but there is no exception to the 18 hour weekly limit for vocational training or work study programs.
  • Employer must obtain written parental consent for the youth to be working.

The other labor laws that typically apply to youth doing agricultural work on a farm continue to apply throughout the school year. For example, employers must maintain records for youth employees, provide a written agreement of compensation and a statement of earnings on payday, and a 30-minute rest period if the youth works more than five consecutive hours. An employer can’t assign any youth under the age of 16 with a “hazardous” job or task unless the youth is 14 or 15 and has a certificate of completion for tractor or machine operation. Further information about these and other laws that apply to youth under 18 working on a farm is in our new Law Bulletin, Youth Labor on the Farm: Laws Farmers Need to Know, available here.

https://farmoffice.osu.edu/sites/aglaw/files/site-library/YouthLabor.pdf

Changes on the Horizon for H-2A Temporary Agricultural Labor Rules

Written by Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, OSU Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program

Originally published at: https://farmoffice.osu.edu/blog/thu-08292019-1114am/ohio-ag-law-blog-changes-horizon-h-2a-temporary-agricultural-labor-rules

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) says that it has found a number of inefficiencies in the H-2A temporary agricultural labor visa program, and the department has a solution: change the program’s rules. The DOL has proposed a number of administrative rule changes that it believes will make the approval process move along quicker, relieve burdens on U.S. farms, and create a more level playing field with regards to pay. Before we talk about the rule changes, let’s recap what the H-2A program is.

H-2A is a visa program for seasonal agricultural laborers from other countries.

Labor shortages have plagued farms across the United States for decades. Congress first created a visa program for non-immigrant labor in the early 1950s, but it wasn’t until 1986 that Congress established the H-2A visa program for temporary agricultural workers. Under this program, farmers may apply to employ H-2A workers on their farm on a temporary or seasonal basis for up to a year, but may apply to renew the worker’s visa for up to three total years.

In order to hire H-2A workers, an employer must certify in an application to the DOL that there are not enough qualified domestic workers willing and able to perform temporary and seasonal agricultural labor. In order to prove that there is not enough domestic labor, the farmer must demonstrate an effort to advertise the available work in the local area.

Further, the farmer must demonstrate to the DOL that employing foreign workers will not negatively affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. In other words, a farmer can’t hire foreign labor because it’s cheaper. A farmer is expected to pay the foreign workers the same as the farmer would pay domestic workers, based upon the higher of the DOL’s Adverse Effect Wage Rate, minimum wage, or prevailing wage.

What does the Department of Labor seek to change?

The DOL proposes to make several changes to the H-2A program’s administrative rules. Some of these changes update the rules to reflect what is already happening, while some make slight changes to the program’s overall scope.

  • Mandate e-filing. The DOL currently allows farmers to submit their applications online or in hard copy, but reports that 4/5 of applications are completed online. A review by the DOL has found that online applications get completed more quickly, have fewer errors, and reduce costs relative to hard copy submissions. Under the new rule, the DOL would require all applications to be completed online, unless the farmer has a disability or does not have internet access.
  • Allow e-signatures. The DOL currently requires farmers to sign a hard copy of their applications and either scan the document into the application or mail it. Under the new rule, the DOL would accept e-signatures as equal to handwritten signatures.
  • Subdivide the adverse effect wage rate based upon specific agricultural occupations. In the previous section, we noted that the farmer must pay the foreign workers the same as he or she would pay domestic workers. One way to determine that wage is to use the DOL’s Adverse Effect Wage Rate. Currently, the DOL has one rate for a state or region based upon the combined numbers for field and livestock workers. Under the new rule, the DOL would use Farm Labor Survey data to subdivide agricultural occupations in order to ensure that higher paying occupations, such as supervisors of farmworkers and construction laborers on farms, use an Adverse Effect Wage Rate that properly reflects the wages of those higher paying occupations, rather than one general rate for all agricultural workers.
  • Update the methodology for calculating prevailing wage standards. Another way to calculate the minimum wages of H-2A laborers is to base their pay off of the prevailing wage. The current method of calculating the prevailing wage, which has not been updated since 1981, requires in-person interviews of employers. Under the new rule, the DOL would eliminate the in-person requirement and allow states to collect data using more modern methods.
  • Incorporate guidance letters regarding animal shearing, commercial beekeeping, custom combining, and reforestation occupations into formal rules. When asked for an interpretation of its rules and policies, a federal agency may issue a guidance letter to the person seeking an interpretation. These guidance letters are not necessarily binding, and have no general application beyond the person seeking the interpretation. By incorporating the guidance into a formal rule, the interpretation holds the force of law. The DOL identified these occupations as unique relative to other agricultural occupations, and created a special set of procedures to obtain H-2A laborers to work these types of jobs.
  • Expand the definition of “agriculture” to include reforestation and pine straw activities. Currently, reforestation and pine straw occupations are only available for H-2B applications, which are for non-agricultural occupations. Under the new rule, these activities would be eligible for the agricultural based visa.
  • Reduce the time an employer must allow a domestic worker to apply for a job to 30 days. Currently, the DOL requires a farmer to hire all eligible, willing, and qualified U.S. workers who make themselves available to work until the half way point in the H2-A contract period. This means that if a farmer has H-2A laborers working under a six-month contract, then the farmer must hire any eligible, willing, and qualified domestic worker during the first three months of the contract. Under the new rule, the farmer would only have to leave such opportunity open to domestic workers for 30 days.
  • Allow an employer to stagger the entry of H-2A labor. Sometimes a farmer does not need all of the H-2A labor to arrive at once, but rather needs some to start on one date and then others to start on a different date. Currently, this would require the farmer to submit an application for each date on which the farmer needs H-2A labor. Under the new rule, the farmer would be able to submit one application but stagger the start dates of his or her workers over the course of 120 days. This 120-day clock begins on the day the first H-2A workers enter the U.S.

For more information about the proposed changes, visit the proposed rule’s entry on the Federal Register HERE.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/07/26/2019-15307/temporary-agricultural-employment-of-h-2a-nonimmigrants-in-the-united-states

The public may submit comments until September 24, 2019.

As part of the public rulemaking process, the DOL is seeking public input on the proposed rule changes. Members of the public may submit written comments to the DOL until Tuesday, September 24, 2019.

You may submit a comment online (visit https://www.regulations.gov/) or by mail (send to Adele Gagliardi, Administrator, Office of Policy Development and Research, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW, Room N-5641, Washington, DC 20210). When mailing comments, be sure to include the rule’s Regulatory Information Number (RIN): 1205-AB89.

15 Measures of Dairy Farm Competitiveness Bulletin Revised

by: Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, ANR in Tuscarawas County

Originally published in 1997, the 15 Measures of Dairy Farm Competitiveness is an Ohio State University Extension publication that has undergone revisions and is now available for use by dairy farmers, lenders, and others interested in dairy farm finances. The bulletin is available at https://dairy.osu.edu or by contacting your local Ohio State University Extension office.

The measures described in the bulletin represent key characteristics of the most competitive dairy producers in the Midwest. While a single dairy may not meet all 15 measures, those that meet the majority should maintain long-term competitiveness. The measures fall into the following broad areas which provide an overview of the competitiveness of a dairy farm business:

  1. Rate of production
  2. Cost control
  3. Capital efficiency
  4. Profitability
  5. Liquidity
  6. Repayment schedule
  7. Solvency
  8. Mission
  9. Maintain family’s standard of living
  10. Motivated labor force
  11. Capturing dairy manure nutrients

The bulletin provides a summary of each measure, along with instructions for calculating, evaluating, and interpreting the measure, followed by a discussion of the competitive range.

The first measure, Rate of Production: Pounds of Milk Sold per Worker, evaluates the pounds of Energy Corrected Milk (ECM) sold per worker. ECM is calculated using the following formula:

ECM = (7.2 x lb of protein) + (12.95 x lb of fat) + (0.327 x lb of milk)

 

Competitive Level Example
1,000,000 lbs per worker 8,500,000 lb of ECM sold/(20,000 hrs/2,500 hrs) = 1,065,500 pounds of milk sold per worker

Pounds of ECM sold per worker is an important tool for evaluating the productivity of workers and cattle. It combines efficient labor utilization with good to excellent herd production. If all feed is purchased, the general rule is to double these benchmarks.

Because free-stall parlor systems can handle more cows, these systems allow more pounds of milk per year per worker than tie stall or stanchion systems. Tie stall or stanchion barns entail considerably higher costs per cow than larger, modern free-stall facilities. The combination of lower investment per cow and more efficient labor utilization make free-stall housing systems much more economical because they generally result in lower costs for producing each unit of milk. However, existing tie stall or stanchion facilities may be able to compete with freestall systems if the operation carries little or no debt.

Fewer pounds of milk per worker will likely be sold per year for small versus large breed herds, but the value of ECM sold per year may be similar under similar management systems. This occurs because of the higher value per cwt of milk for the small breeds of dairy cattle (milk is higher in concentration of fat and protein). However, because the value of milk sold is affected by milk price fluctuations, gross milk sales is not a very useful tool for measuring productivity trends over time.

If the pounds of milk sold per worker is below the competitive level:

  1. Evaluate herd productivity. To achieve the desired level of pounds of ECM sold per worker, cows will most likely need to be above average in production for their breed. Many competitive farmers implement strategies to increase herd productivity. Some strategies include feeding balanced rations, optimizing cow comfort, using proven milking technologies, improving cow flow in the parlor, milking more than two times per day, and filling facilities over 100% when labor is only slightly affected.
  2. Evaluate labor efficiency. Antiquated facilities and uncomfortable working conditions reduce labor efficiency. Careful hiring also plays an important role in labor efficiency. Employee training, motivation, and pride in doing a job well help workers to be more efficient and effective, whether they are family members or unrelated employees. Workers in tie stall or stanchion systems should be able to handle30 to 35 cows per FTE, including raising crops. Workers in free-stall systems should be able to handle 40 to 50 cows per FTE, including raising crops. Efficiently operating parlors will turn a minimum of four times per hour.
  3. Set a realistic goal. Collect information for your own farm, compare your performance with the goal, and take appropriate corrective action, if needed.

For additional information, visit https://dairy.osu.edu to access a copy of the 15 Measures of Dairy Farm Competitiveness bulletin. Ohio State University Extension educators and specialists are available to analyze, evaluate, and provide recommendations to help you be successful.

This article was originally published in Farm and Dairy, August 29, 2019.

 

 

 

 

New Podcast Episodes

by: Amanda Douridas, OSU Extension Educator

The Agronomy and Farm Management Podcast has been releasing new episodes every other week since May 2018 and is set to release its 29th episode next Wednesday. To make it easier for listeners to find past episodes, the podcast has a new landing page at http://go.osu.edu/AFM.

Here you will find a listing of all past episodes, descriptions of what we talked about and links to additional resources. We cover a wide range of topics for corn, soybean and small grain farmers on agronomic and farm management topics. Episodes include legal topics such as leases, LEBOR, and hemp; timely seasonal topics like disease, insects and weather; and operational improving strategies related to nutrient management, precision agriculture and grain marketing.

Stay up to date on the latest episodes by following us on Twitter and Facebook (@AFMPodcast) and adding us to your favorites in Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Give us a good rating and review if you like the podcast! If there is a listening platform you would like us to broadcast on or you have a topic suggestion, reach out on social media or by email at Douridas.9@osu.edu.