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Everything You Want to Know About Labor but Are Afraid to Ask

Capture graph from Labor Readiness Assessment tool

Do you have questions about hiring farm employees? Are you considering making the jump from farmer to owner-operator? We have compiled a few key questions you might want to ask yourself if you answered “yes” to either of those two questions. 

Have you completed a cash flow analysis?

              Cash flow is not profitability, it is the statement of incoming dollars and outgoing dollars at different times of the year, which results in a cash flow statement. Analyzing your cash flow will help determine if you are able to pay your employees throughout the year, seasonally, or if a budget needs to be made to ensure cash is available when needed.

Have you calculated the full cost of employees you want to hire?

              The minimum hourly wage has increased but that still doesn't account for the myriad of costs attached to hiring an employee. Fulfilling legal requirements for worker's comp, insurance, and other costs can derail your budget; causing not only financial hardship for the farm but also your employees. It is always a good idea to consult with employment experts to find out what exactly it will cost to hire your prospective employee.

Do you understand the legal requirements for becoming an employer?

              First, you will need an employer identification number for tax and legal purposes. Laws and requirements are constantly changing so consulting an expert is recommended.

Are you prepared, or have you identified a person who is responsible, for handling payroll, taxes, workers comp and other related paperwork and payments?

              Handling payroll and other employee needs should be the responsibility of a single person in your operation. While employees can report their hours and submit forms, a trained individual needs to be responsible for making clerical decisions and correcting common mistakes to avoid headaches later on. If the owner is not able to perform these duties, someone else must. However, that person does not need to be an expert in all of these areas as long as they have qualified advisors in place to help them with tax, insurance, and regulatory decisions.

Get your labor questions answered by Bryan Little, from the Farm Employers Labor Service, who will be our guest speaker at the Farmer-to-Farmer breakfast on March 14th, 2019 at Happy Apple Kitchen. Watch our website for a link to sign up. Put it on your calendar today!

 

Additional labor related resources:

  • Labor Readiness Self-Assessment Tool - University of Vermont

              Answer a list of 21 questions and a personalized report will be generated letting you know what areas to work on.

http://www.uvm.edu/aglabor/dashboard/node/add/readiness-assessment

  • FELS –Farm Employers Labor Service - a division of the California Farm Bureau Federation

“FELS strengthens the working relationship between farmers and field workers and helps farmers comply with labor and employment laws” https://www.fels.net/1/30-labor/605-vineyard-worker-fatality-highlights-importance-of-machinery-safety-training.html

  • FELS Personnel & Labor Audit Checklist

              Use this checklist to ensure you are up to date with requirements regarding overtime, minimum-wage, posters, etc.

https://www.fels.net/1/images/Audit-Checklist-May-2018-with-FELS-letterhead2.pdf

  • Understanding Cash Flow Analysis - Iowa State University

              This page has links to cash flow budget sheets, cash flow decision maker tools, etc.

https://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/wholefarm/html/c3-14.html

Posted on Friday, February 22, 2019 at 10:43 AM
Tags: farm labor. (1), FELS (1), foothill farming (14), hiring (1), labor (9), legal requirements (1), Small farms (51)

Nematodes in Outer Space?

UC Davis doctoral student and nematologist Christopher Pagan shows nematode specimens to visitors at the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Nematodes in outer space? It's true. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Pheronym, a company in Alachua, Fla., that develops and produces nematode pheromones, have announced plans to send nematodes (small round worms) to  the...

UC Davis doctoral student and nematologist Christopher Pagan shows nematode specimens to visitors at the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
UC Davis doctoral student and nematologist Christopher Pagan shows nematode specimens to visitors at the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

UC Davis doctoral student and nematologist Christopher Pagan shows nematode specimens to visitors at the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

UC Davis doctoral student and nematologist Corwin Parker answers questions from the public at the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
UC Davis doctoral student and nematologist Corwin Parker answers questions from the public at the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

UC Davis doctoral student and nematologist Corwin Parker answers questions from the public at the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomologist Diego Rivera, an undergraduate student at UC Davis, chats with the crowd in the Sciences Laboratory Building. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomologist Diego Rivera, an undergraduate student at UC Davis, chats with the crowd in the Sciences Laboratory Building. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomologist Diego Rivera, an undergraduate student at UC Davis, chats with the crowd in the Sciences Laboratory Building. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

UC researchers discover how grapevine red blotch virus diminishes winegrape value

Grapevine red blotch virus, a disease that is dramatically reducing the value of winegrapes in California's premium wine production region, is harming plants by inhibiting photosynthesis in the leaves, according to research published this month in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The new research also showed that infected vines weren't able to conduct water effectively, leaving whatever sugar that was created by photosynthesis stuck in the leaves. The accumulation of sugar in the leaves results in reduced sugar in the berries and lower-quality wine, said UC Cooperative Extension specialist Kaan Kurtural, one of the study authors.

A grapevine with red blotch symptoms. (Photo: Evett Kilmartin)

According to the report, sucrose and its monosaccharides were the vast majority of soluble sugars found in the leaves. The leaf sugar tended to decrease in the ripening process on red blotch negative vines. But this was not the case in red blotch positive vines. As a result, grapevines infected with the virus produce winegrape clusters with reduced sugar content, poor color development and increased acidity.

Kurtural said the research will inform winegrape growers as they consider possible treatments in vineyards with grapevine red blotch-infected vines.

“There are some treatments that are being offered to growers, but now that we better understand the disease, we know they won't help,” Kurtural said. “Growers don't have to replace the infected vineyards immediately. But if 40 percent of vines are infected, they may want to consider replanting. At least now we know what the disease does, so they won't pay for snake oils.”

Grapevine red blotch virus was first discovered in the Oakville Experiment Station, UC Davis' research vineyard in Napa Valley, in 2008. Since then, researchers found the virus in grapevines throughout California and in 11 other states.

For the new research, the scientists compared naturally infected winegrape vines at the Oakville Station on two rootstocks – 110 R and 420 A – with vines grown on those two rootstocks that were not infected. Grape clusters were collected to examine differences in berry weight, titratable acidity, pH and total soluble solids.

“All those characteristics are important for wine quality,” Kurtural said. “Acidity and pH effect palatability and storage potential. Berry weight and soluble solids impact the physical characteristics of the wine.”

The grapevine red blotch virus impact on anthocyanidins and tannins are a still greater concern for winegrape growers as they change the flavor profiles sought in premium wines.

Fall colors in California wine country aren't good news for the industry. Red leaves on grapevines can be a symptom of serious plant diseases, such as grapevine red blotch virus. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

“High-value winegrapes are sold between $7,000 to $23,000 a ton. If the winegrapes don't have the profiles that wine makers are looking for, they may only be valued between $1,500 to $2,000 per ton,” Kurtural said.

The research was conducted by UC Davis post-doctoral students Johann Martinez-Buscher, Cassandra Plank, Runze Yu and Luca Brillante in collaboration with Kurtural, UCCE viticulture specialist Anita Oberholster, UCCE advisors Monica Cooper and Rhonda Smith and UC Davis Foundation Plant Services academic administrator Maher Al-Rwahnih.

Posted on Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 10:30 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture Pest Management

'Bearing' a Close Resemblance

Entomologist/artist Charlotte Herbert Alberts wearing a red hooded sweatshirt: front view showing the Bohart logo and a tardigrade face. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

You've heard of the California Bear Flag, the one with the grizzly bear" right?  It's lettered with "California Republic." But have you heard of the "other" bear flag that's on a hooded sweatshirt at the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis? It's lettered with...

Entomologist/artist Charlotte Herbert Alberts wearing a red hooded sweatshirt: front view showing the Bohart logo and a tardigrade face. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomologist/artist Charlotte Herbert Alberts wearing a red hooded sweatshirt: front view showing the Bohart logo and a tardigrade face. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomologist/artist Charlotte Herbert Alberts wearing a red hooded sweatshirt: front view showing the Bohart logo and a tardigrade face. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Back view: Entomologist-artist Charlotte Herbert Alberts shows the Bohart Republic's  bear flag, the water bear, that is. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Back view: Entomologist-artist Charlotte Herbert Alberts shows the Bohart Republic's bear flag, the water bear, that is. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Back view: Entomologist-artist Charlotte Herbert Alberts shows the Bohart Republic's bear flag, the water bear, that is. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Bohart associate Emma Cluff cuddles a tardigrade stuffed animal. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bohart associate Emma Cluff cuddles a tardigrade stuffed animal. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Bohart associate Emma Cluff cuddles a tardigrade stuffed animal. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at 5:03 PM

Americorps NCCC Gold Seven Team Experience Hopland REC

The wonderful NCCC Gold Seven team have been working at HREC for the past 3 weeks, they have been so helpful - all the HREC staff will be so very sad to see them go!  In this blog post we learn a little about the team members and get an overview of the work that they have been involved in, the interviews were conducted by Hannah Wood, the media lead for the team.

As the AmeriCorps NCCC team stationed at the UC ANR Hopland Research and Extension Center, we've had plenty of projects to keep us busy! In the three weeks we've been volunteering here, we've helped repair fence lines previously burnt in the River Fire, were put in charge of some daily barn chores, helped build infrastructure for upcoming research projects, assisted with K-12 educational programs, cleared brush, helped tidy up the place, and sometimes worked closely with the sheep (tagging, paint branding, raising bummer lambs, and giving vaccines).

Although the work was daunting at times, and the weather was never perfect, we were thankful to be working and living on this beautiful property right alongside the welcoming staff and their families. We learned loads of information about California seasons and climates, lambing, the important research projects going on, Northern California ecosystems, wildlife in the area, and wildfire mitigation and recovery. And the baby lambs made our days brighter… even with rainy skies!

I've asked a few of my fellow Corps members some questions about their personal experiences at the UC ANR Hopland Research and Extension Center… and here's what they said!

Q: What was your favorite part of volunteering at HREC?

I enjoyed learning a ton from the very knowledgeable HREC staff. Their welcoming attitude enabled us to get a firsthand experience of what living and working at a research extension center entails. We worked with each and every person on staff and they all showed us the details and unique experiences of their work duties, while also being very open and friendly toward us.

-Jared Gasper: 19 yrs old, from Nebraska

 

Q: What has made your experience at HREC?

I liked getting insight into the life of a shepherd and seeing the day to day responsibilities of working on a ranch. I also really enjoyed learning about all the research projects! Overall my time here has been extremely educational and useful for developing myself and my interests, specifically when working with the Forest Advisor for Mendocino Lake and Sonoma counties on post fire vegetation plot surveys.

-Dariel Echanis: 18 yrs old, from Vermont

 

Q: What's it like living at the HREC?

I think we all can say it's been extremely comfortable living and working on the HREC campus. We were very cozy in the dorm house, and enjoyed going for hikes and doing physical training on our off time.. which included beautiful views of course! Hannah Bird made us feel right at home with her caring and immediate attention, giving us fresh lamb meat, welcoming us into her home for dinner, and making sure we were always having new and exciting experiences:)

-Hannah Wood: 22 yrs old, from New York State

 

Q: What was it like as the Team Leader coordinating daily projects with the staff?

The staff at HREC are all incredibly helpful and organized so I had a really great experience working with them. I never had trouble getting into contact with anyone and every member of the staff was happy to answer questions. The team got to work with a number of staff members who all had diverse bodies of knowledge and we learned a lot from them!  Working at HREC has been a wonderful experience for me and for the team.

-Jessi Hagelshaw: 22 yrs old, from California

 

Q: What was it like volunteering on the weekends with the Ukiah Animal Shelter?

It was really rewarding! It was good to see that none of the animals we worked with before Christmas break were still there when we returned in January. I'm glad we got a chance to help out and I would love to do more work with animal shelters in the places we'll work at in the future.

-Alex Faeth: 22 yrs old, from New Jersey

 

Q: How was it working with the K-12th graders that came to HREC to learn about sheep?

Working with the school children was a great experience. The weather was cold and wet a lot of the days we did field trips but the teachers and students were enthusiastic to hike the property, which in turn, energized the staff and volunteers!

-Danny Zoborowski: 24 yrs old, from New York State

 

Q: Anything you'd like to say to the HREC and Hopland/Ukiah communities?

HREC's hospitality was great. The entire staff was welcoming and helpful, the dorms are nice and cozy, the land is beautiful, and it is a great place to hike... or just roam. Thank you HREC staff!

-Amir Corbett: 20 yrs old, from Pennsylvania

 

 

Amir and Alex show the "bummer" or adopted lambs to the K-12 students.

Hard work on the hill!

All the Americorps Gold Seven team worked so hard rain, snow or shine!

Clearing brush, to be prepared for future fire was one of the key tasks that the team helped HREC with.

Posted on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at 9:40 AM
Tags: Americorps (1), education (37), fire (22), grazing (19), Hopland (15), internship (1), rangeland (53), sheep (45), youth (7)

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