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Livestock disaster assistance - PLIP and LFP programs

by Megan Roberts, Extension educator In mid-July, the United States Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced several livestock producer focused disaster assistance programs. The first topic covered in this post is the Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program, which is for losses related to last spring and summer's COVID-19 related livestock marketing disruptions. The second topic is for losses currently affecting livestock producers due to this summer's ongoing drought conditions. Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program (PLIP) The Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program (PLIP) opens for application by qualified producers on July 20 and remains open until September 17. The program assists swine, chicken, and/or turkey producers who suffered financial losses due to depopulation related to COVID-19 disruptions, i.e. insufficient access to processing. Losses must have occurred between March 1 and December 26, 2020. Producers must have had ownership of the depopu
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Writing an Employee Handbook

by Amber Roberts, Extension Educator, Agricultural Business Management   As your farm grows from a sole proprietorship to hiring employees, it's time to start thinking about writing down your farm's policies and procedures. This is where an employee handbook comes in.  Employee handbooks are good for the farm, employers, and employees.   They can communicate the farm's culture by sharing the farm's history, vision, and mission statement. Handbooks can detail the training, development, and feedback processes highlighting the farm's commitment to the improvement of their employees and creating greater employee buy-in. They provide fairness and transparency on all policies and can allow for greater collaboration and discussion between employees and employers on farm policies.  Writing an Employee Handbook Employee handbooks provide important information about the business's vision and culture, expectations of employees, employer obligations, and employee rights. An

Defining your Farm's Culture: Values, Vision, and a Mission Statement

by Amber Roberts, Extension Educator, Agricultural Business Management "Employees in every organization, and at every level, need to know that at the heart of what they do is something grand and inspirational." - Patrick Lencioni Culture is the underlying social architecture of all organizations and comprises the organization's widely shared values, behaviors, and assumptions.  The same is true for your farm. If you haven't already identified your core values and how they shape your farm's culture, doing so can reinforce what makes your farm unique from others. Knowing your farm culture also can help you as an employer and job applicants identify if they would be a strong fit for your farm. How can you start to define your farm's culture?  The primary aspects of establishing your farm's culture are to find your core values, detail your vision for the farm, write a mission statement, and then act on your farm's culture consistently.  Core Values  Core v

Feed Cost

by Nathan Hulinsky, Extension educator, Agricultural Business Management Feed cost is the most important and expensive input cost on a dairy farm. For a combination of reasons, feed costs have risen sharply since the fall of 2020. At Central Grain in Sauk Centre June corn prices are around $6.70 with a positive $0.10 basis, with higher positive basis for late summer.  Soybeans are around $15.00 with negative $0.40 basis. These are very competitive bids.  Futures prices this fall are currently several dollars per bushel lower than nearby contracts. If you have any excess grain, consider contracting it for sale this summer.  However, if you own livestock and are buying crops for feed at these prices, things do not look as rosy. For a historical reference Table 1 shows the feed cost per cwt according to FINBIN data from the Minnesota dairy farms over the past 12 years. This is the yearlong average, so the monthly highs and lows are not captured, but we can see the increase from 2009 and

We’re Hiring: Advertising Your Farm’s Position

  by Amber Roberts, Extension Educator, Agricultural Business Management The days of only placing a 'Help Wanted' Ad in the newspaper to find qualified applicants are behind us. Using a multitude of hiring strategies can be used to gather a larger pool of applicants.  Recruitment Materials When creating a job description to advertise your position, you want to be detailed and positive. Address in the job description why someone would want to work for your farm, identify 2 or 3 of the primary duties of the position, and how they can contact your farm to apply. It is also a good idea to include the date that the application process closes.  Recruitment is a process, not an event. It will take time to find the right fit for your farm's position and networking today can help to create possible applicants for future vacancies. There are a variety of recruitment mechanisms that can help to find a pool of applicants for your farm's position. Start with the networks you already

Quality Employee Feedback

  by Amber Roberts, Extension Educator, Agricultural Business Management Providing employees with concise feedback can be the difference between being 'that farm' that every farmhand in the county wants to work at and employees being unsatisfied with their work. Quality feedback increases the sense of recognition that employees have and is a primary factor of job satisfaction. There are three types of feedback: positive, redirection, and negative.  Positive Feedback Positive feedback motivates employees by providing feelings of personal accomplishments and recognition for their achievements. It also helps to improve future employee performance through building confidence and engaging the employee in their performance.  How can you improve the quality of positive feedback you give to employees? Start by observing the good behavior. Once the desired behavior is performed, state the specific behavior you are complimenting in a genuine and grateful tone. An example of this might be

From Recruiting to Onboarding

   by Amber Roberts, Extension Educator, Agricultural Business Management Recruiting the right candidate for your farm's position is a process that involves several chronological steps to find applicants, hire a strong candidate, and set them up for success on the job. The recruiting process includes three objects: quantity of applicants, quality of applicants, and the spillover effect.  Quantity of applicants matters. The more people that apply to your position, the higher chances that you will find a superior candidate for your farm. While recruitment isn't strictly about the number of people, you also want quality applicants applying, a larger pool minimizes the likelihood of no qualified candidates. To find a balance between the quantity and quality of applicants, the job description should clearly state requirements for the position versus desirable traits. Recruiting for applicants can have spillover effects, marketing your farm as a preferred employer.  Once you have a p