Building Resilience through Farm Employee Training Resources

Sharing training videos, labor resources and standard operating procedures to help your farm business.

As we start to gear up for this new season, many of us may face some uncertainty with our farm labor. While we are implementing best management practices to protect our employees during this pandemic, it is likely that we may find ourselves short-handed at times.

At the same time, there are others in our communities who are unemployed and interested in finding employment on farms. The NY Farm Bureau created a new resource to help individuals self-identify as interested and willing to work on farms. Some of these folks may have agriculture experience, but others may not.

As you exploring hiring and onboarding new employees, this compilation of resources should prove useful to train both new and advanced employees in farm operations.

The training resources linked below are available for free and were created by agricultural college and university staff throughout the country, and reviewed by Cornell Cooperative Extension specialists during the spring of 2020. It is our hope that by improving access to training resources, farm owners and operators will find it easier to onboard and manage employees during the COVID-19 Pandemic and beyond.

We will monitor and update this list regularly, and are also continuing to update our farm resilience resource page as new information becomes available.

Farm Employee Training Resources and Standard Operating Procedures

This collection of resources includes videos, fact sheets and websites to help farm owners and managers train employees in general farm processes and advanced farm operations.

Topics include best practices for farm safety, tips on harvesting produce, basic animal husbandry, basic pest management approaches, as well as, soil testing and field preparation for planting.

Experienced farm employees can benefit from this resource list as well, through demonstrations of specialized pruning techniques, in-depth pest management approaches, blossom thinning and vine canopy management, cow and calf feed balancing, and much more.

Explore the Farm Employee Training Resources

Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Cornell Small Farms program will monitor and update this list regularly.

Looking for more resources and support as you consider a workforce plan?

Cornell Agricultural Workforce Development is the university’s home for all things agricultural labor. Stay informed with expert advice and current guidance for farm employers and employees alike.

Cornell Institute for Food Safety is a hub of quick references for producers and employers from up-to-date regulations to a strategy checklist on what to do if you, or your workforce tests positive for COVID-19.

New York Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) offers the latest updates including resources and guides for reopening procedures. The site serves as a hub connecting the ag industry to the vast amount of research backed information available through the larger Cornell community.

New York Forward shares the state guidelines for reopening New York State, detailing the phases for opening and including business reopening plan templates. Recommendations are being developed to assist all NY farmers in preparing their COVID-19 farm plans.

For more information about reopening plans and COVID-19 safety, Cornell Agricultural Workforce Development created an overview of New York Forward.

The NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets has created an official COVID-19 resource page offering details and latest guidance as it relates to agriculture in the state.

Need information specific to Spanish-speaking farm employees?

The Cornell Farm Worker Program is dedicated to improving the lives of farmworkers in NYS. They have created informational content in Spanish about COVID-19.

The National Center for Farmworker Health has Spanish and English language resources regarding emergency preparedness and general guidance for migrant farmworkers and their employers. This is an essential source of information and updates for agricultural employers of migrant or guest workers.

Continue building resilience with labor and workforce planning

Whether you hire labor or rely on your family to support a farm’s operations, or you work on a farm, you need to be prepared for the possibility that you or others working beside you may fall sick due to COVID-19 this season.

Now is a good time to review your farm plan and redesign activities for physical distancing. It’s also important to have backup plans to make sure the essential work gets done, and consider how to care for those who may fall ill.

The Cornell Small Farms Program created a curated list of resources on labor and workforce issues for farmers and employees to navigate COVID-19.

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.
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