FARM Workforce Development

Public Comment Period

Through resources like the HR and Safety Manuals, the FARM Workforce Development (WFD) program area equips dairy owners and managers with tools to enhance their safe and thriving work environments. This new initiative has brought together stakeholders from the entire dairy value chain to create educational materials for U.S. dairy owners and managers. The suite of educational materials will help farmers who want to implement human resources and safety best practices, enabling them to increase employee engagement, reduce employee turnover, and manage liabilities from the safety risks of dairy farming.

FARM WFD is developing an on-farm, 2nd party evaluation tool that cooperatives and processors can choose to implement with their members. The goals of the evaluation tool are to help farms:

  • learn about HR and safety management best practices
  • identify which best practices will be most useful to implement on their farm
  • track improvement over time

Additionally, by performing on-farm evaluations, FARM Participants can provide important assurances to supply chain customers: our dairy buyers and retailers.

The evaluation tool was developed in consultation with the FARM WFD Task Force and Working Group members, along with subject matter expert input.

Public Comment Period

The Public Comment period ran from December 6th 2019 through January 20th 2020. Thank you to all that participated. The FARM Program is currently reviewing the feedback received.

Program staff is also reviewing dairy producer feedback collected during the pilot program that ran through the end of 2019. Ten cooperatives volunteered to test the evaluation with a total of about 50 producers. Public Comment is intended to complement the pilot.

FAQ

FARM Workforce Development (WFD) is the newest part of the FARM Program. It equips dairy owners and managers with tools to enhance their safe and thriving work environments. Stakeholders and subject matter experts from the entire dairy value chain worked together to create educational materials for U.S. dairy owners and managers. The suite of educational materials helps farmers who want to implement human resources and safety best practices, enabling them to increase employee engagement, reduce employee turnover, and manage liabilities from the safety risks of dairy farming.

View Resources

U.S. dairy farmers have a lot to be proud of when it comes to labor. We provide jobs to over 150,000 hired workers, not to mention our family labor that also make their living through dairying. We provide stable, year-round employment in rural communities as well as competitive wages. But we also face key challenges:

  • Labor shortages / competitive labor market – how can dairy become the employer of choice?
  • Safety outcomes have been improving across all of agriculture, but we still experience tragic fatalities and injuries– how can we get better?
  • Customers and consumers are eager to learn more – how can we share our story?

FARM WFD is developing an on-farm, 2nd party evaluation tool that cooperatives and processors can choose to implement with their members / producers. The WFD evaluation tool is a best practice assessment guide. The goals of the evaluation tool are to help farms: learn about HR and safety management best practices; identify which practices might be useful for their farm; and, track improvement over time.

By performing on-farm evaluations, the industry can also provide important assurances to supply chain customers: our dairy buyers and retailers. Dairy buyers and retailers are concerned about on-farm labor practices in dairy. The FARM program must be proactive and create an on-farm evaluation tool that will serve as the industry’s voice to communicate that dairy is passionate about providing safe and thriving work environments for employees and family members.

Yes. FARM is collaborating with nine cooperatives to pilot the evaluation tool on-farm with between 50 and 60 dairy farmers. The pilot program is running through the end of calendar year 2019. The goal is to test out the FARM WFD evaluation tool with dairies across the country. The most important part of the pilot is producer feedback. FARM will also hear feedback from the FARM Participants on the logistics of implementing the evaluation.

HR and safety best management principles can be useful for farms of all sizes. And certainly – farms of all sizes strive for safe and positive work environments. However, certain formalized practices and processes are more useful for farms with non-family hired employees than for farms with only family labor. And customers and consumers are more eager for assurances with regards to work environments for non-family employees. As such, FARM has proposed using the evaluation tool with farms with 5 or more non-family hired employees. This target size will be tested during the pilot period.

We expect the pilot to wrap up by the end of calendar year 2019, and the public comment period to close in January 2020. FARM will refine the evaluation tool based on feedback from the pilot and public comment. The FARM WFD Task Force will review the evaluation tool and make a recommendation to the NMPF Executive Committee. The Executive Committee may recommend that the NMPF Board review and approve the evaluation tool, or it may suggest further review and refinement by the Task Force. Pending NMPF Executive Committee and NMPF Board approval, FARM hopes to make the evaluation part of the FARM program in early 2020.

The FARM WFD evaluation will be a voluntary part of the FARM program, similar to FARM Environmental Stewardship. Individual cooperatives and proprietary processors will determine whether to implement the evaluation with their members / producers.

If you have additional questions about the pilot, you can email the FARM program at dairyfarm@nmpf.org