Take Your Labor Management to the Next Level

Growing Successful Work Teams: An Online Learning Circle for Women Farmers & Managers

 A two-session online learning circle series
Sponsored by the UVM Extension Women’s Agricultural Network

Location: Online
Dates: March 19 & 26, 10:30-Noon Eastern Time
Registration Deadline: March 12, 2019

Cost: $40

Would you like to learn how to build more productive farm work crews?

In this two-session online learning circle, based on the DiSC Workplace Profile, UVM Extension’s Mary Peabody and will guide you through an assessment of your management preferences, your strengths and stressors. Then, you’ll explore some strategies you can use to be a better communicator and a better manager with employees, customers, and family members who may, or may not, share your work style preferences. Finally, you’ll gain insights into how to bring what you’ve learned back to the farm and use it to build a stronger, more successful crew for the coming season. The registration fee includes your customized DiSC Workplace Profile. The interactive, learning circle format will offer time for discussion and for Q&A. Sessions will be held virtually on two Tuesdays, March 19 & 26, from 10:30 – noon. Sessions will be recorded and additional resources and information will be available.

Register online at: Growing Successful Work Teams: An Online Learning Circle for Women Farmers & Managers

Disability-related accommodations are available. Please contact Mary.Peabody@uvm.edu by March 5so we may assist you. Limited financial assistance is available to eligible individuals. For questions about scholarships and series details, please contact beth.holtzman@uvm.edu.

This material is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S.D.A., under award numbers 2014-68006-21873 and 2015-70017-23898.

Posted in Business management, Leadership, Upcoming events... | Comments Off on Take Your Labor Management to the Next Level

Gender Differences in Farmer Perspectives on Viability and Impacts of Regulation

Women farmers reported significantly less confidence in their ability to make a living farming than their male counterparts

By Melissa Pasanen & Beth Holtzman

Meredith Niles, UVM College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Meredith Niles, UVM College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

A recent UVM study on the impacts of regulation and agricultural policy on farmers revealed that farmers find regulations increasingly complex, costly and challenging to navigate, according to the study’s author, Dr. Meredith Niles, assistant professor in UVM’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“Nevertheless, more than 80 percent of respondents still said they would be farming in the near future,” Niles says.

However, the study found that women farmers had much less confidence in their ability to make a living than their male counterparts, Niles says, despite the fact that that men and women had no statistically significant differences in whether they identified as full-time farmers or not (men 69% fulltime, women 67% fulltime). Across the US, farms with a woman principal operator tend be smaller — in both acres and gross sales — than those operated by men.

Women who participated in Niles’ study were also more likely to disagree with the statement, “government regulations are friendly towards farmers,” which Niles suggests could be related to the study’s findings that women were also less likely to perceive the cost of regulations as reasonable. “Taken together, concerns about economic viability and ability to make a living could be affecting how women farmers see government regulations,” Niles says.

In the “Farmer Perspectives of Government Regulations: Benefits, Challenges and Opportunities” project, Niles conducted 15 in-depth interviews with Vermont farmers and surveyed an additional 73 farmers. Seventy percent of respondents farmed in Vermont while the remaining came from other Northeastern states.

The survey results suggest that farmers feel they are facing increasing regulation regarding every aspect of their business, from environment to labor to food safety. They perceive that the complexity of regulation ratcheting up and that there is an increase in number of agencies involved at state, regional and federal levels.

Other findings from the study include:

  • 84% of farmers reported an increase in regulations.
  • 83% feel there has been increased regulatory complexity.
  • While 45% said farm visits/audits had increased, 55% did not.

Graph of farmer perceptions of changes in regulations

Source: Niles, M., Farmer “Perspectives of Government Regulations: Benefits, Challenges and Opportunities,” retrieved from https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/64f510_876da5aced994329a359ecc5b4247577.pdf

Farmers have similar perspectives on state and federal regulations: the majority feel confident in their knowledge of how to comply, but concerned about predictability of the regulatory environment and costs of compliance.

  • While around 60% (58% for state/61% for federal) said they felt confident with compliance, only 22% (same for state and federal) felt compliance costs were reasonable.
  • 35% agreed at least somewhat that the state regulatory environment is steady and predictable as compared with 31% for the federal regulatory environment.

Farmers are committed to their work but concerned about their longer-term ability to do that work in context of the financial and regulatory realities.

  • Farmers intend to keep farming (83%), even though they do not feel they can make a living wage doing so (70%).
  • Farmers believe regulations are not farmer-friendly (82%), but just over half believe farmers are involved and consulted during the regulatory process.

Many farmers recognize the value of regulations and offered suggestions for challenges and opportunities.

  • About half believe regulations are important for achieving society’s goals, with benefits to the environment, food and worker safety, and improved consumer confidence in the food system. For example, one Vermont farmer said, “Regulations have encouraged us to be better stewards of the land and apply our manure in a responsible way.”
  • Challenges identified included cost of compliance, keeping up with knowledge of new regulations, and disconnect between policymakers and farmers.
  • Opportunities included simplified regulations, more chances for farmer input in the process, science-based policies, and communication, including how to find resources to assist with compliance.
Posted in Culture and Society, Farmland Transfer, General info, Policy & Regulations, Quality of life, Resources for Beginning Farmers | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Gender Differences in Farmer Perspectives on Viability and Impacts of Regulation

Farm Succession Planning – Never to Early or Too Late

VT farmers face succession planning challenges head-on with help from local groups.

In Vermont, senior farmers age 65 or older operate 28% of the state’s farms. Of these 2,076 senior farmers, just 9% of them have someone under age 45 managing the farm with them. The 363,600 acres and $1.2 billion in land and agricultural infrastructure they own will transfer ownership in the next 10+ years in one way or another.

Transferring The Farm Workshops help VT farmers understand the options, resources and steps to transferring a farm business or farmland will be held February 12th from 9:00am to 3:30pm at UVM Extension classroom in Berlin VT (snow date of February 15th). Topics include why succession planning is important, retirement and estate planning, addressing tax issues in a transfer, legal entities and tool you can use to transfer farm assets, and determining your goals for retirement, business transitions, and your land. Local groups and experts will offer assistance to VT’s senior farmers.

“It’s never too early – or too late – to plan for your future and the future of your farm,” says Mike Ghia, Vermont Field Agent for Land For Good. “At no point is a farm’s future more at risk than during this transition,” says Ghia of farmers without proper succession or transfer planning assistance. Land For Good (LFG) is a non-profit organization that helps farmers navigate the complex challenges of land access, tenure and transfer. They also work with farmers who do not have an identified successor to whom to pass on the farm.

The workshop fee is $10 per farmer and includes lunch. For more information or to register, call Land For Good at 603-357-1600 or at landforgood.org/rsvp.

The workshop is sponsored by Land For Goodin partnership with Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, Dinse Law, Intervale Center, UVM Extension, and Yankee Farm Creditand is funded in part by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.

Posted in Farmland Transfer, News, Upcoming events... | Comments Off on Farm Succession Planning – Never to Early or Too Late