Labor Ready

Project Lead: Nicole Waters

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Does your farm have or need employees? Then you need managerial skills.

Time is valuable. Time is money. Your ability to manage people is crucial to your success. Fact: Wages, salaries, and contract labor expenses represent more than 40 percent of the cost of production in labor intensive crops like fruits, vegetables, and nursery products.

The Labor Ready Farmer project is focused on the growth of New York State Fruit & Vegetable farms through improved workforce management and leadership skills.

Successful farm businesses create effective teams and help employees climb the career ladder. Positive farm managers, with great communication skills, lead to higher functioning, more efficient work teams.

On this page you'll find resources, articles, and opportunities to improve your farm's workforce management, ultimately saving you time and money.

News and Updates

Smart Farming Teams

By Nicole Waters | July 20, 2020

Two Perspectives on the Benefit of Agricultural Labor and Farm Business Consulting The Cornell Small Farms Program has nearly 20 years of experience supporting New York State farmers in their…

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March into Better Management through Labor Ready Trainings

By Nicole Waters | February 3, 2020

Management skills are not something people are born with, but are learned with time and practice. With labor as one of the largest on-farm costs, it is wise to invest…

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Learn to Be a Better Farm Manager with Labor Ready Training

By Nicole Waters | November 20, 2019

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…

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About Labor Ready

Being prepared to hire, manage, and retain skilled employees is crucial for farmers. The Labor Ready project offers a team-based approach to address this challenge by building skills of new farmers and agricultural employees wanting to climb the ladder from labor to management.

The project’s long-term goal is 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 will support new farmers scaling up and Hispanic agricultural employees to move up the ladder of management on existing farms. For new farmers, effective management of labor is core to scaling up produce businesses. By investing in the skills of valuable employees, we aim to create pathways for advancement and long term retention of these individuals in the NY fruit and vegetable industry.

The curriculum developed by the project will feature online materials and videos, Spanish plain language guides and visual resources, cell-phone based English classes, regional face to face training programs (ENY and WNY) and new HR consultant teams that will coach 25 selected participants.

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.

Read Articles by Nicole Waters

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Want to receive news about upcoming programs and resources in our Labor Ready project?

Click here to sign up for enews, and keeping checking back below for announcements, workshops, and new resources and opportunities within the Labor Ready Farmer project. Additional resources may also be found on the Ag Labor Management Facebook page.

Project Partners

Collaborators on the project currently include: Cornell Small Farms Program, Cornell Cooperative Extension, GrowNYC’s FARMroots, the Cornell Farmworker Program.

This work is supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grant no. 2017-70017-26837, from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Additional funding and technical support for this project comes from the NYS Office of New Americans and the NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets.

  • Cornell Small Farms Program
  • CCE Lake Ontario Fruit Program
  • CCE ENY Commercial Horticulture Team
  • CCE Ag Workforce Development Council
  • ESL Works
  • Grow NYC FARMroots
  • Cornell Farmworker Program
  • NYS Office of New Americans
  • NYS Dept of Ag & Markets