Spring planting is around the corner, and farmers may be looking to hire an extra helping hand. However, hiring farmworkers has become more complex because of changing labor laws and government regulations.
University of Missouri Extension agricultural economist Ryan Milhollin says farmers, like many business owners, need to know about recruiting, hiring and keeping workers. Attention to this process can save a farm operation time and money.
Rules regarding farm labor differ in some respects from other occupations, Milhollin says. To ensure compliance, it is important to understand how these rules differ.
MU Extension's Missouri Farm Labor Guide can help. The guide, available for free download at extension.missouri.edu/p/M199, offers the right practices to identify, hire and retain the right workers. It also explains ways to mentor workers to help them move into new jobs.
Milhollin says the guide has tips on finding new employees. It tells how to write job descriptions that set clear expectations for employer and employee. There are links to interview questions and farm job descriptions.
The 46-page guide tells how to use background checks, reference checks and drug testing, and gives links to databases. It identifies legal pitfalls during interviews, employment and termination and explains how to avoid them.
Record-keeping often is one of the biggest challenges for small agribusinesses and farmers, Milhollin says. The guide lists contact information for federal and state tax and labor agencies. It also gives rules on pay for employees and family members, overtime, exemptions, bonuses and nonmonetary compensation.
Finally, an application for farm employment and an employer checklist are provided.
The North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and MU Extension fund the guide.