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Book Offers Farm Labor Guidelines

PUYALLUP, Wash. — Farmers are not only in the business of raising and harvesting crops, they are in the business of running a business. That includes managing a work force that may include everyone from family members to hired employees, usually including Latino workers who today comprise the vast majority of field workers.

“Ag Help Wanted” is a unique new book designed to help farmers, ranchers and others in agricultural production understand and address the complexities and regulatory requirements of managing a work force. The book’s introduction describes it as “a guide for owners and managers at every level of agricultural and horticultural operation in the western United States.”

The 242-page illustrated, full-color book presents principles, practical examples, legal considerations and tools to help producers manage the labor component of their businesses. A Web site,, provides supplementary information and tools, as well as continually updated links to help the user stay abreast of legal and regulatory changes.

According to the book’s introduction, “For too many farm business owners, the complexities of employment law, labor market dynamics, and interpersonal relations, compounded by their discomfort in dealing with people from a culture with which they are unfamiliar, ironically feed a reluctance to dig into the field of labor management… but without the abilities and efforts of people in the industry, agriculture would not yield food or fiber.”

“Labor is an essential component in all business,” said Richard Carkner, Washington State University extension economist in Puyallup and a contributor to the book. “As in any business, learning to manage your labor force well can have a positive and substantial impact on the bottom line.”

“Besides being a comprehensive reference on legal requirements, this book offers practical tips for everything from selecting, training, supervising and motivating employees to taking corrective or disciplinary action when necessary,” he said. “Good employee management can result in better worker productivity and lower turnover, and therefore lower costs.”

“Ag Help Wanted” is a collaborative effort by land grant university educators from seven states and one Canadian province. It is published by the nonprofit Western Farm Management Extension Committee in Laramie, Wyo. Single copy price is $25, with discounts for orders of ten or more. Visit for more information or to order the book.

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NOTE TO EDITORS: Review copies of Ag Help Wanted are available by contacting Dr. Carkner.

Media Contacts

Richard Carkner, extension economist, 253-445-4593