UCCE Sonoma County
University of California
UCCE Sonoma County

Posts Tagged: labor

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

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 advisers 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. Sign-up now at https://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=26870 . Put it on your calendar today!


If you use the labor readiness self-assessment tool listed below, part of your results will include a capture graph like this and a detailed interpretation of each labor-related area and how you can improve.

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
  • Author: Hannah Meyer
Tags: farm labor. (1), FELS (1), foothill farming (15), hiring (1), labor (9), legal requirements (1), Small farms (52)

Did You Miss the Farmer-to-Farmer Breakfast?


Domenic Fino talks with a room of farmers about crop insurance options at the January 9th Farmer-to-Farmer Breakfast in Auburn.

A room full of farmers came out on a rainy Wednesday morning to enjoy breakfast together. Our guest speaker, Domenic Fino of Golden Pacific Crop Insurance Services, came all the way from Dinuba, California. He is a farmer, with a family legacy of farming and has been in the crop insurance business for 17 years.

Revenue - While farm acreage and the number of zeros after the dollar sign may be smaller for local farms, revenue earned is revenue that can be lost and can be insured. Fino explained a type of insurance called Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) that was designed specifically for small to medium producers with diversified operations and unique specialty crops. WFRP has been around for the last five years but has only been available in Placer and Nevada Counties in the last two years. WFRP is currently available in all counties in all 50 states.

Records - Fino brought a wealth of experience and information to local producers. He helped explain that WFRP works only if the producer is able to keep proper records and has been reporting revenue on their taxes. “Garbage in, garbage out” Fino said, speaking of how important diligence in record-keeping and setting up the policy makes processing easier when there are claims.

Reporting - Whereas most types of insurance require claims to be made right after a loss, WFRP is unique in that a producer may only complete a claim after filing taxes for the year.

Restrictions – At the farmer-to-farmer breakfast, producers also learned of a few crops that are excluded from WFRP, mushrooms and timber. However, there is a program that can provide assistance for those products called Non-Insured Assistance Program (NAP) which is accessed through the Farm Service Agency. Several mandarin growers learned that while you must have at least two crops for WFRP with the second making at least 17% of your revenue, if you only sell mandarins, there is another option.

Single Crop Insurance - Mandarin only crop insurance is already available in six Southern California counties. Any mandarin farmer may request that type of crop insurance in their county. Once enough farmers request a single crop insurance in a county, it can create a bank of information that will eventually make that type of insurance written specifically for that county.

For more information about WFRP, visit the USDA Risk Management Agency website. https://www.rma.usda.gov/Fact-Sheets/National-Fact-Sheets/Whole-Farm-Revenue-Protection-2018 

Did you miss this event? If you are interested in learning more about crop or whole farm revenue protection insurance, UCCE can provide information. Call 530.889.7385 or e-mail us, cefake@ucanr.edu or dmacon@ucanr.edu

Interested in attending a farmer-to-farmer breakfast? There is another one right around the corner. Wednesday, February 13, at Happy Apple Kitchen in Chicago Park. Look for a sign-up link coming soon.

Posted on Monday, January 14, 2019 at 8:31 AM
  • Author: Hannah Meyer

Effective farm labor management is a key to success in times of labor uncertainty

UC Cooperative Extension will hold workshops in Temecula Feb. 1 and 2 to help California farmers facing agriculture labor challenges stemming from wage and hour laws, joint liability, worker protection, workers' compensation, insurance and immigration issues and policies.

“Farmers are better prepared to face uncertainty in labor markets with up-to-date information and strategies for dealing with people management, and legal and regulatory issues,” said Ramiro Lobo, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in San Diego County and workshop organizer. Additional program partners are the California Farm Labor Contractor Association, Zenith Insurance Company and Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyards.

The workshops will be at Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyards, 35960 Rancho California Rd., in Temucula.  “Challenges and Strategies in Agricultural Labor Management” runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 1. The program includes a review of labor management issues in Southern California, an update on labor laws, basic strategies for legal and effective hiring and orientation, and effective management of worker injuries. The event ends with wine tasting hosted by Wilson Creek.

“Management and Supervision of Personnel for Agricultural Operations,” will be offered in Spanish on Feb. 2. The program, intended for farm owner/managers and first-line supervisors, provides information on effective supervision and management in times of labor shortage, positive and clear communications, and preventing sexual harassment and bullying. Networking and wine tasting, hosted by Wilson Creek, conclude the program.

“Properly managing personnel is critical because of the scarcity of labor,” Lobo said. “We will provide strategies to retain employees by making the workplace more attractive.”

Advance registration is available with a credit card online. Registration for the Feb. 1 workshop is $80 per person before Jan. 20, and $100 after or at the door, if space allows. Registration for the Feb. 2 workshop is $60 per person before Jan. 20, and $80 after or at the door, if space allows. A registration discount is available for participants to attend both events. For both events, registration is $120 before Jan. 20, and $140 after or at the door, if space allows.

For more information see the San Diego County Small Farm website.

Farmworker management is the focus of UC Cooperative Extension workshops Feb. 1-2.
Posted on Wednesday, January 4, 2017 at 8:35 AM
Tags: labor (9), Ramiro Lobo (9)

The U.S. is running out of farmworkers

No matter what happens with immigration reform, the United States will likely suffer a shortage of farm labor in coming decades, reported the Washington Post. The story was based on a study titled "The End of Farm Labor Abundance" by Edward Taylor, professor in the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at UC Davis, UC graduate student Diane Charlton and Antonio Yúnez-Naude, professor in the Center for Economic Studies at El Colegio de Mexico in Mexico City.

“It’s a simple story,” Taylor said. ”By the mid-twentieth century, Americans stopped doing farm work. And we were only able to avoid a farm-labor crisis by bringing in workers from a nearby country that was at an earlier stage of development. Now that era is coming to an end.”

Since it is unlikely that another labor pool can be found, and also unlikely that American demand for fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts will decline, farmers could turn in greater numbers to mechanical options, such as shake-and-catch harvesting machines, the study said.

Mechanical harvesting of cling peaches.
Mechanical harvesting of cling peaches.

Posted on Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 9:15 AM
Tags: Edward Taylor (1), immigration (4), labor (9)

California farmers fear labor shortage, but experts are skeptical

Farmers say traversing the Mexico-U.S. border has become more difficult for would-be farmworkers, causing a labor shortage in California, according to an article in the San Jose Mercury-News.

"(Border crossing) is more dangerous because of the drug cartels, our government is doing a better job of enforcing the borders and the Mexican economy is doing better," said Jim Lincoln, a vintner and former president of the Napa County Farm Bureau.

Phil Martin, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis, paints a different picture. He estimates the yearly number of farm laborers has remained steady in the last decade at around 800,000 people after it had expanded in the 1990s.

Martin is skeptical of perennial farmworker shortage warnings, finding no signs of diminished crops or fewer workers in a 2007 report, but five years later he says the farming community has hit "a period of uncertainty."

Posted on Friday, August 3, 2012 at 10:53 AM
Tags: farmworkers (9), labor (9), Philip Martin (5)

Next 5 stories | Last story


University of California Cooperative Extension, Sonoma County
133 Aviation Blvd Suite 109, Santa Rosa, CA 95403  Phone: 707.565.2621  Fax: 707.565.2623
Office Hours:  M-F, 8am-Noon & 1pm-4pm

Like us on Facebook: UCCE Sonoma                        Follow us on Twitter @UCCESonoma 

Webmaster Email: klgiov@ucanr.edu