Sit down with any Northwest Iowa livestock producer- dairy, swine, beef or poultry- and the topic of labor is sure to surface in the conversation. Everybody has the solution for how agriculture can find and keep a dependable labor force, just ask any national, state or local politician. But each has a perspective for the solution that often doesn’t recognize or jive with the issues identified by employees or employers.
To help identify those issues, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Dairy and Families Specialists in Northwest Iowa are asking the players- employees and employers- to identify issues that they believe are most important in bringing employee and employer together for a mutually beneficial arrangement in their communities.
Dairy Specialist Fred M. Hall and Family Life Specialist Lori Hayungs have worked with retired ISU Sociologist Dr. Jan Flora to develop a survey for employees and employers, respectfully, that should tie together the needs of each and build a framework for programs that will help stabilize the workforce and build community.
Surveys have been circulating in the area with help from local churches and farm groups to ensure the questions would be easily understood and now the kick-off event with be the Northwest Iowa Farm Labor Conference on Tuesday, April 17 at the Sioux County Extension Office in Orange City. The employer track will begin with registration at 9:00 am and programs starting at 9:15. With speakers on what community means to immigrants, consistent management practices for people and animal welfare and creating community for employees in Sioux County.
In addition, all attendees will be asked to complete the employer survey during the noon lunch. Employers may also use the on-line form at Iowa Farmer Survey – Short Version – Fillable PDF and email the completed form to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The employee track will be presented in Spanish and will run from 6 to 8 pm. The evening will start with a light dinner and the programs will start at 6:15 pm. The over-riding them for the evening will be how immigrants understand community and how employers can build consistent management practices for people that protect both employees and supports animal welfare.
All employees are asked to complete a survey and proctors will be available to assist with the employee surveys if needed.
Neither program has a registration fee, but pre-registration is required to ensure that enough meals are provided. Pre-registration can be made by calling the Sioux County Extension office at 712.737.4230.