Labor expense is a significant portion of farm cost of production; the ability to effectively manage human resources is important to maintain financial viability. With immigration issues, low unemployment, worker rights movements, and increasing reliance on employees, hiring and retaining a quality workforce is the most important challenge facing many, if not most farms. Employee management requires a different set of skills, in addition to those for managing livestock and crops. A sustainable solution to this involves developing the leadership and people skills of producers.
The project included focus group meetings with agriculture consultants and producer associations to strengthen our partnerships and increase our outreach to producers.
To address the needs of producers we have expanded our curriculum and delivered workshops for farm owners, managers, and educators using the bilingual UW-Extension Becoming the Employer of Choice Curriculum. Two-day workshops were held in three Wisconsin locations and one Indiana location to reach a total of 20 producers and 12 educators. The extended curriculum was also used in educational setting as part of the Farm Industry Short Course program at UW-Madison (45 students).