Save Money, Retain Valuable Staff and Increase On-Farm Efficiency

Time is valuable. Time is money. And time is of the essence at the height of the busy season! We know that the ability to manage people effectively is a critical skill for a successful farm business. An efficient crew can make or break the bottom line during harvest. So why not invest in your most valuable resource? Your employees (including yourself!) are essential to your farm’s ultimate success!

Owners, managers, employees and the overall farm business all benefit from professionalism and productive working environments.

Being prepared to hire and manage employees will save you time, money and headaches! Whether you are looking to hire employees for the very first time or adding additional staff, human resource and managerial skill are crucial. With the ultimate goal of minimizing workforce related issues on new farms in New York State, the Cornell Small Farms Program through the Labor Ready Farmer Program has grant funding available through 2020 to offer one-on-one technical assistance to beginning farmers, including next generation farmers on family farms. Funding is available, but not limited to, the following four focus areas for up to 20 eligible farms.
Level 1 assistance is for beginning farmers with very limited experience in hiring or training workers. It is intended to help get a good system going on your farm.

  1. Farmers who have never formally hired or managed employees: If you have relied on family and volunteer workers for your farm, but would like to begin to hire employees for the first time, we can assist you with setting up a process that will help you get off to a great start and minimize problems down the road. We provide help with compliance and paperwork, policy development, training and management resources and connections to agencies and support networks.

Level 2 is intended for beginning farmers who have employees, but who have a more targeted need.

  1. Hiring and Training New Staff: If you have employees already but feel like you could use assistance, we can help in streamlining your hiring and training process for new staff to get them up to speed and working independently more quickly. Areas for assistance could include: help with streamlining paperwork and recordkeeping for new hires, assistance in maintaining good records to reduce compliance issues, developing a schedule and set of new hire trainings for your farm to help get workers up to speed more quickly. We can help you pull together videos, handouts, and hands-on demonstrations, and develop a set of Standard Operating Procedures.
  2. Employee Manuals, Policy Development and Employee Feedback: If you have employees already but would like more focused help, we can work with you to develop employee manuals, offer feedback and assistance with developing farm employee policies and/or help in providing better feedback to employees to help reduce problems. We can provide help with the process, legal guidance and assistance with final product development.
  3. H2A Guidance and Readiness: If you are considering hiring foreign guest workers but are not sure what it would take to get your farm ready, we can provide one on one assistance in assessing costs, housing, paperwork and compliance and managing cultural issues.
Flyer from the Labor Ready Farmer Program

Flyer from the Labor Ready Farmer Program. Courtesy of Nicole Waters.

Farmers selected for assistance will work with the Labor Ready Farmer Program to develop a specific scope of work in their selected focus area using with one-on-one guidance and business consulting from agricultural labor specialists. They will also join a cohort of other farmers who are working in the same focus area to share ideas and build a support network.
We anticipate that projects will be completed near the end of 2019 or early 2020. If you are interested in receiving this assistance, please see the application for full details:

  • Smart Farming Team Application

If there is an area, related to employee management and training, that is not included in this list that you need help with on your farm please include this information on your application.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact:
Nicole M. Waters
Beginning Farmer Project Coordinator
Small Farms Program – Labor Ready Farmer Project | (607) 255-7115

Kacey Deamer

Kacey is the Communications Manager for the Cornell Small Farms Program. In this role, she manages all storytelling and outreach across the program’s website, social media, e-newsletter, magazine and more. Kacey has worked in communications and journalism for more than a decade, with a primary focus on science and sustainability.


  1. Avatar of Melissa Kit Markland Cook Melissa Kit Markland Cook on February 22, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    I would be interested in more information.

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