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Learn to Be a Better Farm Manager with Labor Ready Training

Managing people is a skill that can be learned, much like operating equipment or growing crops. Do you expect yourself, or your employees, to learn those other skills on your own? Most people are not born with people management skills and benefit from coaching. Labor is one of your farm’s biggest expenses — how well are you managing it?

The Cornell Small Farms Program’s Labor Ready project works to ensure that new farmers and advancing employees in our region can access high-quality information, supportive networks and proven tactics essential to effective management of labor. These efforts support new farmers scaling up and Latino agricultural employees to move up the ladder of management on existing farms.

We are offering another series of our “Farm Management Master Classes” this year to support farm owners and farm managers in improving HR management. These two-day intensive workshops will give you the skills you need to effectively hire, train and supervise your farm’s employees.

Update: Due to low pre-enrollment and other scheduling conflicts both workshops will now be held in March 2020. 

The Eastern New York workshop will be held on March 2 and 3 at the CCE Dutchess County office in Millbrook, NY.

The Western New York workshop will be held on March 16 and 17 at the CCE Orleans County office in Albion, NY.

To find out more about the workshops, including the opening of registration, sign-up to our newsletter.


This class is led by Richard Stup, director of the Cornell University Ag Workforce Development Program; Elizabeth Higgins, the Ag Business Management Specialist with CCE’s Eastern NY Commercial Hort Team; and Mark Wiltberger, the Ag Business Management Specialist with CCE’s Lake Ontario Fruit Team.

Included in the workshop’s two-day agenda:

Moving From Individual Performer to Supervisor – “People don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers.” The skills that make someone a top performer on the farm do not necessarily translate to being a great manager of people but supervisors are often selected from the pool of high performers in an organization to reward them for their contribution to the organization, without consideration of their people management skills or aptitude. This session will help you identify the skills needed to be a great supervisor of people, and how you can develop and apply those skills on your farm.

Onboarding New Employees – Onboarding is a relatively new term that describes the process of bringing new employees into the business. The goal of onboarding is to have safe, productive, and engaged farm employees, from day one. Learn to create an employee onboarding program for your farm with clearly assigned responsibilities, designed training experiences, full regulatory compliance, and basic evaluation. You will also learn about the onboarding program being developed by a team of ag industry professionals and how your farm can participate.

Performance Management – This is where the rubber hits the road in management. One of the hardest challenges of management is effectively communicating performance expectations to employees and ensuring that those expectations are carried out. This session will cover effective communication, developing training and assessment programs that get your employees off to a good start and providing timely and supportive feedback to get the best out of your staff. Tools we will discuss include using standard operating procedures, other communication strategies, training resources and feedback and incentives.

Nicole Waters

Nicole Waters

Nicole is the Beginning Farmer Project Coordinator for the Cornell Small Farms Program. Her work focuses on the human side of farming, with the day-to-day operations of the Labor Ready Project as her main priority. Trained in organizational communication, leadership, and English as a Second Language (ESL); Nicole’s work aims to foster healthy and positive working environments through professional development programs.