Ag group urges vigilance when hiring farm workers


In the wake of the hiring of an undercover “investigator” at Fair Oaks Farms and the revelation that Derrick Josi of TDF Honest Farming almost hired an anti-dairy activist on his farm, it’s no surprise that people in ag are taking a closer look than ever at the hiring process. 

There are definite questions to ask yourself when hiring someone: Are the employees working on your farm there to help care for your animals? Do their goals align with your business? Activists can show up in many forms, and while the first step to take is always ensuring that your animal care practices are beyond reproach, the Animal Agriculture Alliance also advises farmers and ranchers to be vigilant in their hiring processes. This ensures that everyone hired is there for the right reason — to provide care to livestock — and does not have any ulterior motives that would distract from that.

The alliance offers these tips regarding hiring:

  • It is vital to thoroughly screen applicants, verify information and check all references.
  • Be cautious of individuals who try to use a college ID, have out of state license plates or are looking for short-term work.
  • During the interview, look for answers that seem overly rehearsed or include incorrect use of farm terminology.
  • Search for all applicants online to see if they have public social media profiles or websites/blogs. Look for any questionable content or connections to activist organizations.
  • Require all employees to sign your animal care policy. Provide training and updates on proper animal handling training.
  • Require employees to report any mishandling to management immediately.
  • Watch out for red flags, such as coming to work unusually early or staying late and going into areas of the farm not required for their job.

Always trust your gut — if something doesn’t seem right, explore it further. Never cut corners on your hiring process, even if you need to hire someone quickly. Doing your homework on every job applicant may be time-consuming, but it can ultimately save your business’ reputation. As always, it is important to work with local legal counsel to ensure compliance with federal and state laws for your hiring process.

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