Tag Archives: Agriculture


In this issue of our newsletter:

  • Ag HR Challenges

  • Next Steps

 

AG HR CHALLENGES

Let’s face it, doing business in California is becoming more and more complicated by the day. Not only do the restrictive laws impact normal businesses, but they are exponentially more difficult on our farmer friends. Whether you are in dairy or wine grapes, these restrictions can be difficult to navigate. On top of the changing employment laws, agriculture gets a second whammy with environmental hoops and restrictions thrust upon them.

Ag must also deal with fire access plans, disaster planning and more. They are facing pressure from unions who are, in some cases, spreading fake news about how Ag employees are treated and paid unfairly.

 

 

The Ag industry also has unique opportunities with transitional labor forces such as H2A and farm labor contractors that bring people into our community to perform farming duties. The government contracts for H2A are rising at such a rate that it is now questioned whether the effort to secure this important labor force is worth it. These costs alone have risen over 50% for wages in the past 5 years.

All industries, not just Agriculture, have an emerging issue to address with the increase in lawsuits. Lawsuits are becoming the norm in many companies. While many of these lawsuits are frivolous in nature, legal firms are threatening to turn the claims into class action lawsuits. The cost of defending even a small frivolous suit can be daunting and costly to small businesses, and with the threat of a class action, the exposure becomes more complicated and expensive. The winners are often the legal firms, not the person or persons who bring the lawsuit to the employer.

 

NEXT STEPS

What can companies do to help head off some of these regulatory, compliance, and legal costs?

First, companies can strengthen their human resource practices. While smaller agriculture, family-focused businesses may resist the idea of becoming “corporate” with too many rules and regulations, a proactive strategy is necessary to prepare for the emerging and longer-term challenges.

 

 

Second, watch closely for wage and hour violations including meal period, breaks, and overtime pay. These violations when addressed quickly and thoroughly, not only support your employees, but reduce exposure for legal actions that too many legal advisors see as low hanging fruit.  Proactive HR practices eliminate exposures and send a strong message to employees and potential employees that the company values their contributions.

Third, if you have someone designated to manage HR, but they are limited in HR skills or experience, consider further education and development for them to proactively manage the HR function.

Finally, if you do not have an in-house HR leader, consider hiring a qualified professional, or if you prefer, outsource the function. Leap Solutions is always ready to address your HR needs and issues.

 

 

Are You Ready to Leap?

*****

Leap Solutions is a diverse group of highly skilled management, organizational development, and human resources, and executive search and recruitment professionals who have spent decades doing what we feel passionate about helping you feel passionate about what you do. Our HR specialists can help you get a handle on the ever-changing COVID-19 guidelines, programs, and legislation that may impact you and your employees. We are available to work with you to develop practical solutions and smart planning decisions for your organization’s immediate, near, and long-term needs.

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All of that green is not just the hard work of mother nature. It requires something we don’t often see — the hard work of experienced farm workers.

 

In this issue of our newsletter

    • Behind the Green Scene
    • Finding Enough Agricultural Workers
    • The H-2A Program
    • Leap Solutions’ Work Over the Past Four Years with Clients Participating in the H-2A Program

 

Behind the Green Scene

California is green, despite our lack of rain. It produces almost all of the country’s almonds, olives, dates, figs, prunes, and walnuts, and leads in the production of avocados. Cruising around Sonoma County’s rolling landscapes is a visible confirmation of Wine Country’s 85% share of the nation’s wine sales

All of that green is not just the hard work of mother nature. It requires something we don’t often see — the hard work of experienced farm workers.

 

Finding Enough Agricultural Workers

But there aren’t always enough agricultural workers to go around. While occasional news reports focus on unsafe working conditions, low wages, and other abuses migrant and farm workers may endure at the hands of unethical employers, we do not see this at any level, specifically in the H-2A program. We generally aren’t aware of how much labor is required to keep an agricultural economy moving. Even less known is how hard it can be to find enough resident Northern California farmworkers to fill openings.

 

The H-2A Program

Enter the H-2A program, which, as stated on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, “allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs”. These are the jobs that go unfilled when every farm worker in the local pool is already employed.

As you might assume, the program is rigorously controlled, has strict parameters, and is not inexpensive for employers, but without it the impact on agriculture could be as serious as what we are currently experiencing with supply chain issues, manifesting via shortages of everyday items and bare shelves in stores. So, legitimate, ethical employers can fill their labor shortages with people ready to do the jobs, but the cost to participate can be extraordinary.

 

Leap Solutions’ Work Over the Past Four Years with Clients Participating in the H-2A Program

For four years now, Leap Solutions has worked with clients participating in the H-2A program. The complex program includes 200 rules. To abide by these rules, there are legal and administrative costs; travel, meal, and housing expenses for the workers; and the sheer logistical time it takes to shepherd workers at the border, through the security, background and federal interview processes, housing, and wage requirements (workers’ wages under H-2A are set by the government).

Every aspect of the process is critical, which is why clients appreciate Leap Solutions’ experience working with clients participating in the H-2A program. We started with one farming company but crossed paths with other Leap clients also waiting at the border for temporary workers (Yes, Leap Solutions’ representatives are there right at the start). Now we work with them to bring critical farmworkers to Sonoma County.

 

Leap Solutions is Here to Help

Managing complexity, even when it’s something as bureaucratic as a federal temporary immigrant agricultural worker program, is only one of the many ways we help clients. Contact us with your workforce, employer, and human resources needs, and the next time you sit for a meal and a glass of wonderful Sonoma County wine, take a moment to think about those workers behind the scenes and the employers who do right by them, and by us.

COVID-19 Rapid Tests

The US Government has announced a program to send 4 free test kits to each American home. To order your 4  free government-issued COVID rapid tests go to COVIDtests.gov

 

Are You Ready to Leap?

***

Leap Solutions is a diverse group of highly skilled management professionals serving our clients with their organizational development, human resources, and executive search and recruitment needs. We have spent decades doing what we feel passionate about helping you feel passionate about what you do. With the ever-changing COVID-19 response, our HR specialists can help you get a handle on the guidelines, programs, and legislation that may impact you and your employees. Through all of our services, we are available to work with you to develop practical solutions and smart planning decisions for your organization’s immediate, near, and long-term needs.

To print this article, Click Here