On labor....and also treating your employees right

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In this second episode in our ag labor series, we're joined by Erik, a commercial heifer grower in the western US. This is an interesting episode - Erik first addresses the challenges that he, like all ag producers, is facing right now, but then he started in on a topic that doesn't seem to be covered whenever we talk about ag labor issues. Erik made a point of saying how important it is that pay is competitive, benefits are actually well, beneficial, and that keeping your employees engaged in the mission are all more important than just putting a warm body in a tractor. He makes the (often unacknowledged) observation that maybe in ag, it's been routine in the past to just work people as hard as possible, without compensating them properly because it wasn't required. Erik even has the unique (at least from what we've been hearing in the ag community) perspective that the new ag labor overtime law in Colorado is going to keep people from job hopping so much because they can make a lot more money, which is usually the top incentive to remain. He said that compensating people properly is not only a good way to get people to stay, but it's the right thing to do. He finished by saying, "We were all put here on this earth to do more than work and die. It's important that there's a work/life balance, and that extends to every employee, not just who owns it or manages it."

We're not gonna lie, some of his statements were surprising to hear, because it's contrary to what we hear at policy and legislation meetings, industry events, and just regular everyday talk among producers. We also won't deny that we are 100% on Erik's side with this, because everything he said is absolutely true. While policy, legislation, and regulation changes are desperately needed to address the ag labor disaster we find ourselves in, keeping employees' health and wellbeing should be the #1 priority for any employer.

Tune in – this episode features a guest who pulls no punches, doesn't mind questioning the status quo, and is a fun conversationalist to boot.

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Love, Katharine and Val

Episode 143 - Ag Labor Series #2 - Labor Challenges in the Dairy Sector