Updated Checklist for Iowa Agricultural Employers

Melissa O'Rourke

Melissa O’Rourke, ISU Extension Farm and Agribusiness Management Specialist, shares tips for agricultural employers

The average farm operation does not have an HR (human resources) department. And likewise, many smaller Iowa agricultural service and supply businesses are not able to support an HR management position. Most farm and small ag businesses start as a family operation – but as they grow, it becomes necessary to hire non-family employees. All business owners should have a team of professionals – legal, tax, accounting and insurance – that can provide advice applicable to business HR needs. But to get the farm business owner started, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach provides a resource to guide Iowa farmers and other agricultural employers to key policies and procedures to be considered when hiring employees. 

The Checklist for Iowa Agricultural Employers on the Ag Decision Maker website is an overview of points to consider in preparation for hiring one or more employees for a farm or other agricultural operation.

The checklist is organized into categories of factors to check from the start to finish of the hiring process. References for more information are provided throughout the checklist, most of which come from either ISU Extension or other research-based university extension sources. State and federal government agency resources and contacts are included.

The links to resources have been revised and updated recently. We know that website links and resources can quickly become outdated, so we’ve tried to go through the document and bring those connections up to date. Several new resources have been added since the previous version of the checklist.

Worker misclassification has been recognized as a key issue by state and federal regulators. Too many businesses have taken a route to save expenses by wrongly classifying workers as independent contractors rather than correctly recognizing them as employees – so we’ve included resources to guide employers in that regard.

Additional information on job analysis and job descriptions is also included in the checklist. It’s important that farm and ag business employers think about the business needs, and clearly define what skills and qualifications are needed in the operation. Well-written job descriptions can be the key to guiding an effective hiring and employee retention strategy.

Employers should not consider the Checklist for Iowa Agricultural Employers to be exhaustive, or consider it as legal advice. Consult with personal qualified tax, accounting, insurance and legal advisers as they will be familiar with the farm business, and can provide expert advice on specific needs.

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