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.

 

Guidelines for Employing Youth on Your Farm

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

Students will be wrapping up their school year in a few short weeks and you may have a young person contact you about a summer job. Young people often have an interest to work on a farm and many are excellent employees. However, as an employer, there are rules and regulations you must understand before hiring minors to do work on your farm.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has established certain provisions to protect the safety of minors. In 1967, the U.S. Secretary of Labor determined certain agricultural jobs as hazardous to youth less than 16 years of age. There are two exemptions to these regulations:

1-The list of hazardous agricultural occupations does not apply to youth under 16 years of age working on a farm owned by their parents or guardians; and

2- The list of hazardous agricultural occupations does not apply to youth under 16 years of age who have completed an approved Tractor and Machinery Certification course. Such course allows youth who are 14 or 15 years of age to operate tractors over 20 horsepower for hire to someone other than their parents.

For most Ohio laws, anyone under 18 years of age is considered a minor and the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) prohibits minors from working in hazardous occupations. There are certain sections of the ORC that do not apply to minors, including obtaining an age and school certificate (unless you employ children of migrant workers), keeping a list of minor employees, and paying the minimum wage.

Agricultural occupations considered hazardous to youth under 16 years of age include:

  • Operating a tractor of more than 20 PTO horsepower, or connecting or disconnecting implements from such tractor;
  • Operating a combine, corn picker, hay mower, harvester, hay baler or potato digger;
  • Operating a feed grinder, grain dryer, forage blower, auger conveyor or the unloading mechanism of a non-gravity type self-unloading wagon or trailer;
  • Operating a trencher, earth moving equipment, fork lift, power-driven circular, band or chain saw;
  • Working in a yard, stall, or pen occupied by a bull, boar or stud horse; or sow with suckling pigs or cow with newborn calf;
  • Felling, bucking, skidding, loading or unloading timber with butt diameter of greater than six inches;
  • Working on a ladder at a height of more than 20 feet;
  • Driving a bus, truck or automobile or riding on a tractor as a passenger;
  • Working in a forage, fruit, or grain storage facility; an upright silo within two weeks after silage has been added or when a top unloading device is operating; a manure pit; or a horizontal silo when operating a tractor for packing purposes;
  • Handling or applying pesticides with the words or symbols “Danger”, “Poison”, “Skull and Crossbones”, or “Warning” on the label;
  • Handling or using blasting agents;
  • Transporting, transferring, or applying anhydrous ammoniaThere may be restrictions to the number of hours and when a minor can perform farm work. See the table for a summary:
14-15 years old 16-17 years old
 

 

 

School in

Session

Cannot work before 7am or after 7pm.

Cannot work more than 3 hours in a school day.

Cannot work more than 18 hours per school week.

Cannot work during school hours unless employed in a certified vocational training program.

Cannot work before 7am or 6am if not employed after 8pm the previous night.

Cannot work after 11pm Sunday through Thursday.

No limitations in hours per day or per week.

 

 

School not in

Session

Cannot be employed before 7am or after 9pm.

Cannot work more than 8 hours per day.

Cannot work more than 40 hours per week.

No limitation on starting and ending time.

No limitation in hours per day or per week.

Federal regulations require employers of youth under 16 years of age to maintain records about each employee. Minors employed by a parent or guardian are exempt from this requirement.

The Ohio Revised Code exempts agricultural employers from record keeping requirements for minors. However, the Ohio Revised Code does require an agreement as to wages for work to be performed be made between the employer and minor before employment begins. The agreement should be in writing and signed by both parties.

Additional information about the employment of minors in agriculture is available from this OSU Extension Fact Sheet: https://farmoffice.osu.edu/blog/fri-04122019-340pm/ohio-agricultural-law-blog-navigating-ohio%E2%80%99s-line-fence-law.

Should I Continue Farming?

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

 It’s no secret that all of agriculture is suffering from years of low commodity prices and rising input costs. The economic struggles have affected you financially and physically. You’ve looked at the numbers, met with advisors, and talked to family.   The thought of selling part or your entire farm brings with it added worry and concern. What can you do?

Find someone you trust and with whom you feel comfortable discussing your situation. This person may not have many answers to your questions, but they can listen to your frustrations and worries. They may be able to help you sort through the confusion and develop a course of action. Think of your situation as a picture – a set of eyes looking at the picture from the outside may see things you can’t because you are caught up in the picture.

Understand that you are not alone. Nearly every farm and farm family is in a similar situation. Don’t live in the past or dwell on what could or should have been done. Take control of the situation and develop a plan for managing the things you are able to control.

Assessment

Evaluate your financial position by meeting with your lender to discuss options for restructuring debt. Can you extend the repayment terms to provide more cash flow? Contact your Extension Educator about completing a FINPACK analysis (https://farmprofitability.osu.edu/).

What are your Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Rewarding, and Timed (SMART) goals? How are your goals similar and different from those of family and/or business partners?

Develop a list of your education, experiences, and skills. How can you use these in another career? What career opportunities fit you best?

Evaluation

If you come to the decision that selling all or part of your farm is the best option, there are several items to address. Begin with a balance sheet and other financial information to understand your present financial situation. Doing so will help you decide how much money (and approximate number of assets) you must sell. You may want to meet with an appraiser, auctioneer, or real estate professional for help determining the expected value of assets.

Professionals

Your attorney can answer questions and advise you about legal considerations related to a sale. An accountant will help minimize your tax liability and give an estimate of what you may expect to pay in taxes.

Help is Available

There are people and agencies/organizations that can help with the transition and the emotions that come with the sale. Clergy, licensed counselors, and medical professionals can help you cope. Other sources of help include:

Ohio State University Extension (extension.osu.edu)

National Suicide Prevention (1-800-273-8255)

National Alliance for Mental Illness (1-800-950-6264)

Ohio Workforce Training (ohio.gov/working/training)

Ohio Job & Family Services, Office of Workforce Development (jfs.ohio.gov/owd)

Additional Information

Coming to the decision to sell all or a part of your farm is not an easy decision. Find someone with good listening skills. Talk to professionals, reach out for help, get answers, and make the best possible decisions. More information about this subject is available at https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/anr-71.

 

REMINDER- Registration will close soon…Come Join Us for the…Small Farm Conference & Trade Show

The two day conference will be held on Friday, March 29th and Saturday, March 30th at the OSU South Centers in Piketon, Ohio.

The conference is designed for small farm owners wanting to learn more about how to make their farms work better for them. Many topics will be offered to help landowners expand their operations. Land owners can attend workshops and seminars taught by Extension professionals and industry leaders on a wide variety of agricultural enterprises.  Attendees will also get to meet various vendors at the trade show.  The trade show will be open part of the day on Friday, and all day Saturday.

Attached is the brochure that includes a mail-in registration, the agenda with session descriptions, and the registration letter for vendors.

Please see the flyer below for additional information.

For full details, please go to go.osu.edu/OSUFARMConference2019.