Through the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program’s Workforce Development (WFD) program, dairy farmers are proactively implementing human resources (HR) and safety management best practices; identifying which best practices are most useful on their farm; and tracking improvement over time.
Newmont Farm in Bradford, VT embraced the FARM WFD program, improving safety and HR measures for the farm’s six family employees and 28 non-family employees who keep the 2,700-animal operation going.
“FARM Workforce Development gave us an opportunity to review our existing safety and training protocols and identify areas we could strengthen,” Newmont Farm owner Will Gladstone said. “It’s been helpful for both managers and employees to have written documentation of safety procedures and employee resources.”
Newmont Farm had already implemented many safety and workforce best practices before joining the FARM WFD program, including requiring New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH) safety training on a wide variety of topics, participating in NYCAMH yearly inspections, having yearly insurance audits, and keeping employee training logs with signatures. Additionally, each housing unit on Newmont Farm has its own 911 number and address so that employees can be clear and direct with 911 operators in an emergency. By participating in FARM WFD, Newmont Farm has been able to keep track of these practices over time.
The FARM WFD evaluation tool helps farmers develop sustainable processes and procedures and document best practices already in place. The program offers multiple resources to equip dairy owners and managers with the tools they need to further enhance their work environments. After their FARM WFD evaluation, the team at Newmont Farm set goals to review and update their existing employee handbook, draft a housing agreement, and develop a written comprehensive safety plan for the whole farm. These practices will help employees to better know and understand what is expected of them and what they can expect in return, both for day-to-day farm activity and in an emergency. Through the WFD evaluation, Newmont Farm was able to identify which best practices would be most useful to implement on their farm, furthering the FARM foundational principle of continuous improvement.
FARM Workforce Development is improving awareness about HR and safety best practices on U.S. dairy farms, as well as encouraging farmers to think about their businesses through a different lens. For more information about the WFD program, visit the FARM Program website.