Retreat Empowers Women to be Better Farm Managers

by: Amanda Douridas & Emily Adams, OSU Extension Educators

Female farmers, whether farming on their own or in a partnership, realize the importance of the business side of farming. Annie’s Project provides education and a support network to enhance business skills of women involved in all aspects of agriculture.

Annie spent her lifetime learning to be an involved farm business partner with her husband. Annie’s life experiences inspired her daughter, a university Extension agent, to create a program for women living and working in the complex, dynamic agriculture business environment. Annie’s Project fosters problem solving, record keeping, and decision-making skills in farm women.

Two weekend retreats are being offered in Ohio this winter. Women will receive training in five areas of agricultural risk management: financial, marketing, production, legal, and human resources. Most importantly women are able to network and develop relationships with other women in agriculture.

Past participants have had this to say about the program:

“I changed my mind about how to approach communication with my in-laws as business partners.”

“I have gained tools to help improve management of our farm and insight on how to communicate the resources to other members of the farm.”

“I appreciated getting to meet others with a shared interest.”

“I encourage any woman to attend one of these great programs!”

The firs retreat will be held Dec 1-3 at Salt Fork State Park Lodge and Conference Center, 14755 Cadiz Road, Lore City, OH 43755. The participant fee is $105 per person, which includes all materials and meals. Lodging is $99 per room per night with up to four people per room. Registration deadline is November 17. For questions about this program, please contact Emily Adams at or 740-622-2265.

The second retreat will be Feb 2-4 at Western Buckeye Christian Camp, 5455 Roeth Rd, Houston, OH 45333. The cost is $95 per person and includes all lodging, materials and meals. Please bring bedding and towels. The registration deadline is January 19. For questions about this retreat, please contact Amanda Douridas at or 937-484-1526.

Registration for both workshops can be found at:


Are Your Dairy Farm Employees Willing to Learn?

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

Developing employees is critical for the success of any farm.  We say that, but do we believe it?  New products, technologies, and practices are changing rapidly on dairy farms, and we know an employee development program will enable them to make better decisions and solve problems.  But do employees really want to learn?  Results of a survey recently released show that employees do want to learn!

Michigan State University interviewed 174 dairy farm employees representing 13 farms.  Employees were asked to rate their interest in learning.  A scale of 1 (“I already know enough to do my job”) to 5 (“I am interested in dairy and I want to learn more”) was used.  The average was 4.73.  In other words, they nearly unanimously selected 5 – “I am interested in dairy and I want to learn more”.

What do you think farm owners and managers believed employees would answer?  Using the same scale, they rated employee interest in learning at 3.27.  This is a much different ranking when compared to the one provided by employees.

What does this mean? Which picture is truer? Do employees really want to learn or were they just saying what they thought the interviewer wanted to hear?  These are not meaningless questions – in fact, the extent and investment by farm owners in employee training depends on the answer.  Employers have been reluctant to believe the results based on their own experience.  Maybe their experience is a result of poor training methods, an incorrect approach, or poor timing.

Two veterinarians recently shared examples that strongly reinforce the results of this research.  On one farm a graduate student (also a veterinarian) was gathering data for a research project.  She described how employees asked her to teach them more about disease diagnosis, treatment, and why and how diseases occur.  She scheduled a time to go back to talk to the employees about the transition period.  She planned to be there no more than one and a half hours, but (because of the questions) was at the farm for three hours!

A second veterinarian reported on the results of a lunch meeting with employees from one farm.  The veterinarian anticipated being with the group for no more than one hour.  He reported being with the group for two hours because of the number of questions from the employees!

Why do the experiences of these veterinarians, and the results of the research, differ from what some dairy producers experience?  Maybe the answer is in what the veterinarians indicated.  Here are some key points:

  • Attitude – the veterinarians believed employees wanted and were capable of learning, and they wanted to help them
  • Language – they were able to speak the same language of the employees
  • Time – they made time to meet with the employees
  • Why – they explained cow physiology, “why” things happen, and “why” protocols are as they are

There may be other reasons, but the point is to recognize the desire most employees have to learn.  Feed that desire and your employees will respond.  Maybe you schedule time one day a week for a “dairy talk time” with your employees.  Any topic is available for discussion or let employees suggest a topic in advance.

Create an environment where learning is encouraged and you will gain employee loyalty and satisfaction.

This article was originally published in the Farm & Dairy newspaper, May 2017.

(Source:  This is a summary of a research project conducted by Phil Durst and Stanley Moore, Michigan State University.  Read more at: Hungry to learn?  Phil Durst, Michigan State University Extension,

Hiring Youth Labor on Your Farm

Source: Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, ANR, Tuscarawas County

Young people may be approaching you in the next few weeks looking for a summer job on your farm. Will you hire someone on the spot?  Do you have work available for a minor to perform?  Can a minor perform the same tasks as an adult?  What do state and federal child labor laws say about youth employed in agriculture?

Determine Your Needs

  • What jobs do you have available?
  • Are there livestock tasks that need performed?
  • What cropping tasks need completed?
  • For how many hours do you need an employee?
  • Are there special requirements you must be aware of when employing minors?

Tasks Defined as Hazardous

It’s not surprising that there are certain tasks in agriculture that have been identified as “hazardous” by the federal government. Ohio has adopted the same list.  What’s included on this list?

  • Operating a tractor of over 20 PTO horsepower, or connecting or disconnecting an implement or any of its parts to or from such a tractor;
  • Operating or working with a corn picker, grain combine, hay mower, forage harvester, hay baler, potato digger, mobile pea viner, feed grinder, crop dryer, forage blower, auger conveyer, unloading mechanism of a non-gravity type self-unloading wagon or trailer, power post hole digger, power post driver, or non-walking type rotary tiller;
  • Operating or working with a trencher or earthmoving equipment, fork lift, potato combine, or power driven circular, band, or chain saw;
  • Working in a yard, stall, or pen occupied by a bull, boar, or stud horse maintained for breeding purposes; a sow with suckling pigs; or a cow with a newborn calf (with umbilical cord present);
  • Felling, buckling, skidding, loading, or unloading timber with a butt diameter of greater than six inches;
  • Working from a ladder or scaffold at a height of over 20 feet;
  • Driving a bus, truck, or automobile to transport passengers, or riding on a tractor as a passenger or helper;
  • Working inside: a fruit, forage, or grain storage designed to retain an oxygen-deficient or toxic atmosphere; an upright silo within two weeks after silage has been added or when a top unloading device is in operating position; a manure pit; or a horizontal silo while operating a tractor for packing purposes;
  • Handling or applying toxic agricultural chemicals identified by the words “danger,” “poison,” or “warning” or a skull and crossbones on the label;
  • Handling or transporting explosives;
  • Transporting, transferring, or applying anhydrous ammonia

The prohibition of employment in hazardous occupations does not apply to youths employed on farms owned or operated by their parents. In addition, there are some exemptions from this prohibition:

  • 14 & 15 year old students enrolled in vocational agriculture programs are exempt from certain hazardous occupations when certain requirements are met; and
  • Minors aged 14 & 15 who hold certificates of completion of training under a 4-H or vocational agriculture training program may work outside school hours on certain equipment for which they have been trained

Minimum Age Standards for Agricultural Employment

  • Youths ages 16 & above may work in any farm job at any time
  • Youths age 14 & 15 may work outside school hours in jobs NOT declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor, unless the minor holds a 4-H or vocational agriculture tractor operation or machinery operation certificate. The certificate must be kept on file by the employer.
  • Youths 12 & 13 years of age may work outside of school hours in non-hazardous jobs on farms that also employ their parent(s) or with written parental consent
  • Youth under 12 years of age may work outside of school hours in non-hazardous jobs with parental consent, but only on farms where none of the employees are subject to the minimum wage requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • Youths 10 &11 years old may hand harvest short-season crops outside school hours for no more than eight weeks between June 1 & October 15 if their employers have obtained special waivers from the Secretary of Labor
  • Youths of any age may work at any time in any job on a farm owned or operated by their parents

Who Enforces the Laws and What are the Penalties?

Investigators of the Wage and Hour Division enforce youth employment provisions of the FLSA. They have full authority to conduct investigations, gather date, and assess compliance with the laws.

An employer that violates the youth employment provisions may be subject to civil money penalties (CMPs). The amount of the CMP assessment depends upon the application of statutory and regulatory factors to the specific circumstances of the case.

Generally speaking, child labor CMP assessments will be higher if the violation contributed to the injury or death of the youth involved. The severity of any such injury will be taken into account in determining the amount of a CMP.  A CMP assessment may be decreased based on the size of the farm business.  Also, CMP assessments will reflect the gravity of the violation and may be doubled if the violation is determined to be willful or repeated.

A CMP assessment for a violation that causes death or serious injury of a minor is subject to a higher statutory cap. An injury qualifies as a “serious injury” for this purpose if it involves permanent or substantial harm.  Both the significance of the injury and duration of recovery are relevant in determining whether an injury is serious.  If more than one violation caused a single death or serious injury, more than one CMP may be assessed.  Finally, CMP assessments based on the death or serious injury of a minor may be doubled to a higher statutory cap if the violation is determined to be willful or repeated.

How to Comply with the Law

To be certain you are in compliance with the laws regulating the employment of minors in agriculture, take a few precautions to protect everyone involved.

  • Verify the child’s age and keep records
  • Review and understand the list of agricultural work considered hazardous
  • Remember that only your children and grandchildren are exempt from hazardous jobs
  • Instruct minor employees about the jobs they may not perform
  • Review safety procedures with employees
  • For 14 and 15 year olds who have completed a 4-H or vocational agriculture tractor or machinery operation course, retain a copy of the certificate.

A job on a farm is a great opportunity for young people to learn about agriculture. It’s also a good way for them to earn money toward a vehicle or furthering their education. View your farm operation as a way to provide opportunities for young people, but make certain you understand and follow the law.


U.S. Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division,

Peggy Hall and Catharine Daniels, Ohio Agricultural Law Blog, June 10, 2013,

Northeast Ohio Small Farm Conference to be held on March 25 in Massillon

by Rory Lewandowski, Wayne County Extension Educator

The 2017 Northeast Ohio “Living Your Small Farm Dream” small farm conference will be held on Saturday, March 25 at the RG Drage Career Center in Massillon located at 2800 Richville Dr. SW Massillon, 44646.  The conference is a program of the OSU Extension Small Farm Program and will provide farm owners and landowners with the opportunity to learn more about skills useful on a small farm, how to make their small farms work better, expand their operations, or gather ideas on how to utilize rural acreage.

Participants will choose from more than 25 different sessions offered over 4 breakout sessions during the day.  General topic tracks include horticulture production, livestock and aquaculture, small farm management, natural resources, marketing and selling.  Presenters include OSU Extension specialists and educators as well as USDA agency personnel, and area farmer entrepreneurs.  The trade show represents industries, businesses, services and organizations that provide products or services utilized on a small farm or rural property.

A sampling of some of the topics that will be covered at the conference includes:

  • Chainsaw Safety, Maintenance and Operation
  • Raising sheep and goats
  • Grass-fed Beef Production
  • Fruit tree pruning
  • Hobby Maple Syrup Production
  • Fruit Tree and Small Fruit Disease Management and Prevention
  • Micro Greens Production
  • Vegetable Production and Season Extension with Tunnels
  • Using and calibrating hand held sprayers on the farm
  • Growing Shitake mushrooms
  • Selling eggs, poultry, produce and cottage foods
  • Marketing Meat Goats
  • Renting and Leasing Farmland
  • Renewable Energy
  • Small Farm Tax Issues
  • Aquaculture Opportunities
  • Vegetable Disease Diagnostics

The Chainsaw Safety, Maintenance and Operation topic as well as the Vegetable Production and Season Extension with Tunnels are both super sessions that extend over two break-out session time periods.  The vegetable production and season extension with tunnels session will actually start at the OARDC high tunnels in Wooster and then move to the RG Drage Center for the in-door portion of the session.  Participants may elect to do only the Wooster part, only the RG Drage Center part or both parts of this topic.

The conference begins with registration at 8:00 am, and an opening general session at 9:00 am.  The conference concludes at approximately 3:45 pm following the final breakout session.  Registration cost is $60 per person, which includes lunch and morning refreshments.  The registration deadline is March 17.  For those who are interested in attending both the Women in Agriculture conference ( at the same location on March 24 plus the small farm conference on March 25 there is a discounted registration fee of $100 to attend both conferences.  Student discounts are also available.

A conference brochure and registration form along with descriptions of all the breakout sessions as well as on-line registration is available on the OSU Extension Small Farm Program web site at: .  Questions can also be directed to the Wayne County Extension office at 330-264-8722.


Employers Must Use New 1-9 Form Beginning January 22, 2017

by Peggy Hall

Beginning January 22, 2017, employers must use a new version of Form I-9 for employment eligibility verification of new hires.  The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) revised Form I-9  last November and gave employers a short grace period for making the conversion to the new form, dated 11/14/16.  The new form is available on the USCIS website at

Employers will  notice several improvements to the new I-9:

  • The instructions are now separate from the form and include specific guidance on each section.
  • The form is much more computer-friendly, with drop-down lists, calendars, on screen prompts and instructions for each field, a “start over” button and easy access to full instructions.
  • The employer may now list more than one preparer and translator who assisted in completion of the form.
  • In the first section, the employer must list only “other last names used” rather than “other names used.”
  • A new “additional information” box provides space for the employer to note important information for the employer’s purposes such as additional documents presented, employee termination dates or form retention dates.

Employers must complete a Form I-9 to verify the identity and employment authorization of every individual hired for employment.  For more information, see our previous post on Form I-9, and visit the USCIS’s “I-9 Central” at


Join the Ohio Women in Agriculture Learning Network

by: Gigi Neal, OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources- Clermont County

According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, 30% of operators are women on the national level. In Ohio, 28% of operators are female: 31,413 women of 113,624 total operators. Ohio’s largest concentration of female farm operators is in its 10 eastern counties, which boast more than 500 women farm operators per county.

The goal of the Ohio Women in Agriculture Learning Network (OWIALN) is to help women in agriculture improve their quality of life by providing them with resources to make better business decisions, while maintaining a balance with family and personal obligations.

This national initiative is developing a new portal for education, technical assistance and support of women farmers, ranchers and producers. The OWIALN shares the same goals and collaborates on programs with the eXtension Women in Agriculture Community of Practice at

Join us for educational workshops, eNewsletters, webinars and more. To join the Ohio Women in Agriculture Learning Network, contact coordinators Gigi Neal at 513-732-7070 or or Heather Neikirk at 330-830-7700 or Visit our website at or like us at Ohio Women in Agriculture Learning Network on Facebook.





Annie’s Project Programs

by: Gigi Neal, OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources- Clermont County

Do you have a calendar that is color-coded because of all the functions that happen within your family? Then do you look at it and wonder, “How in the world am I going to manage all these items plus manage a farm?” Juggling work and home seems to be a natural state for many women, but when you add working or managing the family farm – whew! How do you make all the decisions for production, stewardship and family?

Just imagine if you had the tools to assist you and your partner in making farming decisions to help build a more successful enterprise, while balancing your life. Annie’s Project is the answer for all women wanting to strengthen their role in the agricultural business. Annie’s Project emphasizes empowering farm women to become better stewards of the land and business partners in the agricultural world through decision making and building networks.

Annie’s National Network Initiative for Educational Success (Annie’s) is a six week course founded on Risk Management Education for Farm and Ranch Women through production, financial, market, human resources and legal risks. These sessions foster problem solving, record keeping and decision-making skills in farm women. Many of the women develop a lasting camaraderie with the other class participants through conversation and discussion, which further enhances learning.

OSU Extension will offer the original Annie’s Project program, which focuses on five areas of risk facing today’s farm businesses. These program series are scheduled across Ohio:

  • Lucas and Henry County area at The Anderson’s Activity Building in Maumee on Monday evenings from Feb. 9 to March 16, 2015. Contact Beth Scheckelhoff at 419-592-0806 or or Amy Stone at 419-213-4254 or
  • Paulding County area at the Youth Leadership Center in Paulding on Monday evenings from March 16 to April 20, 2015. Contact Sarah Noggle at 419-399-8225 or
  • Washington County currently has a program in progress and is having a very successful event that concludes Feb. 9.

Future program series are being planned and additional information may be found at under Ohio Women in Agriculture Learning Network programs and events. For more information regarding Annie’s Project, contact Gigi Neal at 513-732-7070 or or Christine Kendle at 330-339-2337 or Visit Annie’s Project National Website at

To join the Ohio Women in Agriculture Learning Network, contact Gigi Neal at 513-732-7070 or or Heather Neikirk at 330-830-7700 or Visit our website at or like Ohio Women in Agriculture Learning Network on Facebook.





2015 Ohio Vineyard Custom Rate Survey Being Conducted

by David Marrison, OSU Extension

OSU Extension is asking for your assistance in securing up-to-date information about the fee to perform tasks in Ohio vineyards.  Many vineyards across Ohio hire machinery operations and other vineyard related work to be completed by others. This is often due to lack of proper equipment, lack of time or lack of expertise for a particular operation.  Many vineyards do not own equipment for every possible job they may encounter and may, instead of purchasing the equipment needed, seek out someone with the proper tools necessary to complete the job. To date, no survey has been conducted to analyze custom rates for vineyard work in Ohio. We are asking for your assistance in responding to this inaugural Ohio Vineyard Custom Rate Survey.

Please respond even if you only have a few rates to report.  Please report for what you have paid to hire work or what you charge if you perform custom work. Custom Rates should include all ownership costs of implement & tractor (if needed), operator labor, fuel and lube.  All data will be reported as averages/range in the final report. Thank you for your participation in this survey.  More information can be received by calling OSU Extension-Ashtabula County at 440-576-9008 or by emailing

Click here to access the Ohio Vineyard Custom Survey- 2015

OSU Extension Joins Effort to Revise Agricultural Labor Camp Rules

By:  Francisco A. Espinoza

In fall of 2013, Extension, through the Ag & Hort Labor Education Program, joined the Ohio Department of Health’s Agricultural Labor Camp Rules Review Committee.  The Committee membership eventually had representatives from Farm Bureau, ODJFS, ODH, ABLE Legal Services, county health departments, and agricultural employers from across the state.  Winter and spring Committee meetings were held, and suggested revisions were finalized by summer.  The following is a summary by Nolan Stevens, J.D., Public Policy Officer for the Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs. To read more click here.

Outlook on Hispanic Labor

By: Francisco A. Espinoza

An Opening Word

Both producers and labor look for a good season and good profits.  If everyone feels rewarded, successful, and happy at the end of the season, most likely their outlook for the coming year is also going to be positive. Growers will plant again and workers will head north, returning for another profitable season.  But there is no guarantee.  Every year brings potential for good and bad. And there are some indicators for the 2014 season.

Traditional Choice of State

Hispanic farm labor decides where to work for the season not much differently than anyone else seeking employment.  Chief considerations revolve around earning potential, work conditions, and community amenities providing for good housing, family needs, and local services.  Of course, details differentiate between a local Ohio resident and a migrating family, but here are some factors Hispanic labor utilizes in choosing which state they will travel to each season:

  1. Potential for profits:  Simple. Workers look for states where they can make money.
  2. Crop Calendar:  States/employers that offer an extended season of work, either through a single employer or several across the state, will attract workers, who do not want to spend their profits and time on traveling expenses and inconveniences.
  3. Historical contact:  Labor will return as long as their experiences with employer/state/region have been positive.  If so, no surprise that families sometimes have returned for generations.
  4. Good work environment and conditions: These include issues of safety and division of work.
  5. Familiar crops and work:  Workers will choose what they do best, and most profitably. Some even specialize, perhaps looking only to pickles as the best economic choice.

Spring Trip to Florida

March 2014, staff from Ohio’s Teaching & Mentoring Communities (TMC), providers of Migrant Head Start, traveled to Florida to meet with a Head Start agency serving farmworker families, some of which work seasonally in Ohio.  TMC wanted to address the decreasing numbers of children and families participating in Ohio Migrant Head Start, looking toward the coming 2014 season.  Their contact with migrant families revealed some indicators of concern for traveling north.

 Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR), unsurprisingly, was of chief concern.  A high percentage of labor is reported as undocumented and, therefore, unauthorized to work.  The risk of apprehension and deportation while traveling, or even while working up north, causes labor to hesitate in deciding.  States with proven enforcement, like Alabama and Georgia, are seen as barriers to travel.  Workers would like to have Florida issue some form of license ID that would allow them to drive north legally. Also basic to worker consideration is the cost of travel, such as gasoline prices. Overall, lack of CIR is the greatest concern for Hispanic migrant labor.

Implications for Ohio

Early planting of specialty crops and some greenhouse activity calls for labor. With spring conditions finally opening up the season, recruitment of farm labor intensifies.  Though it is still too early to make a definitive determination of labor availability, planting season has arrived.  With it will come some serious questions for producers.  Is the farm labor contractor (FLC) having success recruiting workers. Will emphasis be on hiring more local/seasonal labor to mix with the migrant workforce.  If there is a decrease in Florida workers, is a return to recruiting Texas workers called for. Were there enough workers for planting, and will there be enough for harvesting.  The end of May and certainly mid-June should provide a clear picture of labor availability for the 2014 season.

A Closing Word

The mid-term Congressional elections can greatly affect CIR and the availability of labor.  Will there be any movement for reform, or will it be kicked down the road.