FARM Program Launches Fourth Silo: FARM Workforce Development

The National Dairy FARM Program announced today the launch of its fourth program area, FARM Workforce Development. The initiative provides U.S. dairy farm owners and managers with educational tools that offer best management practices around human resources – including hiring, training, and supervision – and worker health and safety.

FARM Workforce Development was created by stakeholders from the entire dairy value chain to provide educational materials on one of the most pressing concerns for the dairy sector. The human resources part of the program focuses on how to best attract, invest in, and retain a professional, high-quality, engaged workforce.

The safety portion outlines how farms can further cultivate and demonstrate continuous commitment to on-farm safety. For the safety portion of the initiative, FARM is collaborating with the Idaho Dairymen’s Association (IDA) to develop a best-in-class safety resource for dairy farm owners and managers. IDA’s Dairy Workforce Training & Safety Program Oversight Board includes representation from dairy farm employees to provide the worker perspective into the development of the safety manual.

According to FARM Program management, these new educational resources will help farmers who want to broaden their understanding and implementation of human resources tools and safety practices for their employees.

“By making these tools available, we will further demonstrate the dairy industry’s existing commitment to continuous improvement in human resources and worker safety,” said Emily Yeiser Stepp, senior director of the FARM Program. “This new component of the FARM Program offers educational materials tailored to the needs of U.S. dairy farms of all sizes.”

The National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program began developing its newest component last year, gathering expert and stakeholder input through its Workforce Development Task Force. Farmers, cooperative staff, academics, and other subject matter experts – divided into working groups – have reviewed, recommended and provided counsel on the program area’s resources. This reliance on stakeholder input ensures the Workforce Development materials are technically robust and relevant to today’s dairy industry.

The educational resources will provide farm owners with resources that can assist in increasing worker engagement, reducing employee turnover and enhancing the safety of dairy farming. Some of those resources will include:

  • State-by-state and federal legal fact sheets that summarize state laws and regulations on a variety of human resource issues for dairy farms, including wages, benefits, payroll, youth employment and more.
  • The FARM Human Resources Reference Manual that contains a self-assessment and templates, including a sample employee handbook.
  • The FARM Safety Reference Manual that provides dairy owners and managers with an overview of safety management best practices, legal considerations and more.

“Dairy farm employees are dedicated to high-quality animal care and producing nutritious milk. Farm owners and managers share that dedication and strive to create work environments that attract and retain employees. Until now, they didn’t always have access to the proper resources to advance their farm’s HR and safety management goals,” said Nicole Ayache, NMPF’s Director of Sustainability Initiatives and FARM Workforce Development team leader. “It only made sense to bring those goals into the FARM Program’s spirit of continuous improvement to enhance the safe, secure, and thriving work environments on our dairy farms.”