Three speakers to highlight today's farm worker issues
As production practices on America's dairy farms continues to evolve, dairies are finding new ways to hire qualified employees and properly train, compensate and motivate them for their work.
To help dairies stay in tune with important changes in labor law and human resources best practices, three speakers are scheduled to appear at the 2012 Business Conference of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW), March 13-14 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.
Tom Drendl, agricultural safety specialist for the National Farm Medicine Center, will present "Ready for an OSHA Visit? Develop Your Farm Safety Manual Now."
Drendl is a certified trainer of OSHA General Industry Standards and uses this training to assist dairy employers and employees in providing a safe working environment.
Drendl will walk through today's typical dairy farm setting and explain how to develop a Farm Safety Handbook, along with outlines for other written programs.
Deborah Schmitz of the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, will present "Know the Ag Labor Laws."
In this session, Schmitz will sort through the lengthy and complex rules and regulations, and clarify what a dairy needs to know to be in compliance with labor laws.
Schmitz started with the United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division in Madison, in 1978 and has since accumulated 23 years of experience investigating businesses to determine compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act, Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and other laws.
A third session is less regulatory in nature and more directed at dairy farm owners and managers who want to strengthen their management teams.
Mary Kraft, Chief Financial Officer and human resources director for two dairies in Colorado, will present, "Gathering Your Peeps: Finding and Building the Middle Managers You Need."
Kraft's session will provide insight regarding cow managers vs. people managers, qualities and expectations of potential middle managers, training tools to develop middle managers, training across language and cultural barriers, and team-building and cohesive dairy management.
Kraft's session will be particularly helpful for dairies who are looking to retain the best employees. The farms for which Kraft works have 70 full-time employees, and only two key employees were not developed from within those dairies.
With fewer and fewer skilled agricultural workers available for dairy farms, developing and training good employees becomes a key to long-term success.
In addition to these three sessions, five keynote speakers and 11 more breakout sessions will be offered at the 2012 PDPW Business Conference. Hot topics range from feed bunk management to mastitis control, from cow behavior to farm record-keeping. 2012 marks PDPW's 20th annual conference, with special references to PDPW's 20-year history planned throughout the event.