Hiring Extra Farm/Ranch Help

Be Mindful When Hiring Extra Farm/Ranch Help

HANNAH THOMPSON
Animal Agriculture Alliance

As you prepare for shearing and lambing season, you might be looking to hire additional resources to help you get everything done. Because America’s farms and ranches are the front lines of our food supply and keeping these facilities safe and secure is essential to animal health and wellbeing, the Animal Agriculture Alliance encourages vigilance whenever you bring additional hands, ears and eyes onto your farm. Employees play a vital role in every day farm operations, so security measures start at the hiring process.

The Alliance recommends following the tips below as you consider bringing permanent or seasonal help onto your farm.

• Always check references. You might be surprised how often this critical step in hiring is skipped because of a need to fill positions quickly. We encourage you to always do your due diligence when having someone work on your farm, whether it’s in a permanent position or helping with seasonal tasks such as shearing. Be sure to ask for a list of references and contact at least two – more if anything in the hiring process has given you pause.

When contacting references, verify the contact’s identity. Do they have an official company or farm email address? Are you calling a number affiliated with a company or farm? Is the contact listed on any official documents you can find online?

• Document everything. The first step to making sure that employees and applicants understand your farm’s philosophy on animal care is simply writing it down. Make sure your commitment to caring for your flock is clearly explained in writing and outline what is and is not acceptable.

Provide guidance for what an employee is expected to do if they are not sure how to handle a situation, or want to report concerns. Having these policies clearly documented (and signed by all individuals who handle your livestock) can protect you down the road.

• Ask the right questions and watch for red flags. Even if you are only bringing temporary help onto your farm, you need a thorough hiring process and to look out for any red flags. Always ask for resumes, and carefully examine them for anything that seems odd.

Are there large unexplained gaps in employment dates? Does the applicant’s education seem to be a mismatch with the position he or she is interested in (based on the level or field)?  When interviewing, ask interested applicants about their prior experiences with livestock or on farms and ranches – does their answer sound natural, or does it seem rehearsed? When talking about shearing, lambing or other topics involved with raising sheep, does the applicant use appropriate terminology?

• Trust your instincts. If something feels off to you with an applicant or someone you have already hired, trust that gut feeling. Contact your state or local breed/farm organizations and ask for advice or guidance. The Alliance is also always available to help with tips and resources.

Ensuring your employees are well trained and have the best intentions will keep your farms and ranches focused on providing a safe and consistent food and fiber supply and protect you from activists seeking to put all of animal agriculture out of business. For more information about farm security, visit Animal Agriculture Alliance online at AnimalAgAlliance.org.

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