Upcoming Nov 1 Workshop: Farm Labor Policies, Pricing and Local Fair Trade

Preparing the Ground for Local Fair Trade

ATTENTION FARMERS: November 1 workshop will help you understand and implement fair labor and pricing policies

To help set the stage for domestic fair trade, the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York is sponsoring a series of workshops for farmers on farm labor policies and setting prices that cover farm production costs. The Ithaca workshop will be held on November 1 and is cosponsored by Groundswell.

Farm Labor Policies, Pricing and Local Fair Trade


Elizabeth Henderson, long-time CSA farmer and leader in the international Agricultural Justice movement, is one of the presenters at the November 1 workshop.
Monday, November 1, 2010
9am – 3 pm
EcoVillage FROG Common House
Rachel Carson Way, Ithaca, NY

Charge: $35 ($30 NOFA-NY members), includes a light lunch and a copy of Richard Wiswall’s The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook

Please RSVP by October 15 to Robert Hadad, Cornell Vegetable Program Fresh Market Specialist, at rgh26@cornell.edu 585-739-4065. If you include your email, you will receive an electronic copy of the Agricultural Justice Project Tool-Kit, a guide to good farm labor policies.

WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION: Farm Labor Policies, Pricing and Local Fair Trade
For a farm to be sustainable, the farm needs a steady, well-trained labor force and the products of the farm must bring a price in the marketplace that covers the cost of production, plus a living wage for the farmer, money to do repairs and maintenance, to pay for continuing education for the farm staff, and to make improvements to the farm. Many family-scale organic farmers have the best intentions, but under the day-to-day pressures of farming, do not take the time to learn all the relevant laws and regulations, and to document their well-intentioned practices. The purpose of these workshops is to provide the concrete information and documentation a farmer needs to live up to the claim of social justice.

1. Creating an Effective Workforce for your farm – 9 am – noon

All workers have the right to safe working conditions, just treatment, and fair compensation.
Elizabeth Henderson and Robert Hadad will help you think through labor policies for your farm including employees and interns. They will share templates for policies, job descriptions with clear expectations, contracts and safety training, and provide information on New York State legalities governing pay rates, insurance, other forms of compensation, and housing. They will stress the importance of establishing a process for conflict resolution. Attendees will receive a copy of the Agricultural Justice Project Tool-Kit.

2. Getting a Fair Price that Covers Your Farm’s Production Costs Plus a Reasonable Profit – 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm
You cannot get a fair price if you do not develop your skills in calculating your costs of production, understanding the difference between fixed and variable costs, and set up a simple but thorough system for documenting expenses and revenues and generating the data you need. A solid grounding in your farm’s finances can also serve as the basis for effective negotiations with buyers. Elizabeth will present an overview of the importance of value-based goals for your farm’s economics, and Robert will review and analyze existing training programs and demonstrate some of the tools from Richard Wiswall’s The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops and Staff – and Making a Profit (Chelsea Green, 2009) and Brian Caldwell’s new spread sheets for calculating crop production costs and revenues.

The workshop will conclude with a discussion of money issues for farms – can we afford to pay more than minimum wage to workers? What happens if the state requires time and a half for overtime? How can we get prices that allow us to cover costs and provide a decent benefits package for ourselves and our workers? Can local trade become fair trade? Would a fair trade add-on to organic certification help market your farm’s products? Please come ready to share your farm’s numbers and to talk!

The workshop series is funded by USDA’s Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NESARE) as a Farmer Grant, FNE 09- 660. For more information, contact Elizabeth Henderson, elizabethhenderson13@gmail.com, 585-764-8471.