Should I Hire Farm Labor?

0fe63a4By: Meaghan Malinowski, MidAtlantic Farm Credit

Those that get into farming know the long labor hours they’ll be putting into field work, managing finances, and the many other tasks that come with the responsibility of producing food and other products. How can you tell if your farms’ profitability is enough to support paying a wage to farm help? The New York Times reports that “farm labor costs are typically less than a third of farm revenue,” but each farm is very different and what works for one may not work for another. While there isn’t an absolute rule of thumb for these questions, there are a few things you can consider and analyze before making the decision.

What farm tasks are most economical to outsource?

If you’re running your farm part-time on top of working a 9-5 job, maybe you need someone to feed and care for the animals in the morning or maybe you would feel more comfortable hiring someone with more experience to keep your financial records straight. Both tasks are very important to the daily management of a farm, but require completely different skill sets. What task would be most economical to outsource in comparison to how much your farm makes, the wage you plan on paying, and how many hours you’ll need to hire someone for?

Where will you find your farm help?

5304900638_abee83b476_bHiring local people from your community may seem like the obvious choice but what about utilizing a Farm Labor Contractor’s services? Depending on the experience necessary for the task at hand, both options have viable possibilities along with different liabilities. Make sure to check your states’ Department of Labor website for requirements for hiring farm labor before utilizing any services.

How much are you willing to invest into training your farm help?

It doesn’t take advanced training to shovel manure out of a stall, but managing that manure and making sure all regulations are met is a whole other story. Depending on the tasks you want to hire someone else to complete, think about the number of hours it will take to train this person on how to do the job correctly and efficiently; teaching someone how to pressure wash equipment will take much less time than teaching them how to operate that equipment out in the field. Some tasks may also require a special certification or professional training which will cost money as well.

Are you prepared to adequately handle the legal side of managing employees?

Hiring outside help for the farm has many legal, both federal and state, implications, calling for the correct submission and retention of paperwork, enforcement of safety regulations, among many other benefits that must be provided or made available to the employee. For more information on the rules and regulations for hiring farm labor, check out the USDA’s website for the Office of the Chief Economist or contact your local extension office.

Before making a decision to hire full-time or part-time employees, do your homework and research the different options you have. Our expert lending staff at MidAtlantic Farm Credit is just a phone call away, waiting to help you take your operation from good to great! Contact your MAFC loan officer today or give us a call at 888.339.3334.

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