The agriculture and farm world is a little different in the scope of employment. Networking with other producers and often extra caution in hiring is needed. Once hired, good employee management is needed.
Watch carefully for unusual behavior, especially by new employees who shouldn’t be in a certain area. Examples may be milkers in the calf barn. Odd hours, interest in sensitive information and accessing files they don’t need in the scope of the job are all reasons to look further, especially if resisting following farm policies or uneasy with unannounced visits.
Another red flag are those who volunteer for jobs below their stated experience when it gives access to animals, especially outside of normal hours. Buddying up to upper management with an interest in schedules and security are other reasons for concern. Every case of “undercover videos” has certain things in common and these things are a common thread. With editing of video two or three weeks of videotape is shown in less than two minutes, and a 15 second clip shown repeatedly may or may not be the reality of your farm.
Have cameras in areas such as calf areas, hog handling areas, milking parlors and other key areas. This increases protection for theft as well as increasing the abilities to see what employees are really doing and that they are abiding by your animal welfare policy.
Many livestock organizations already have a code of conduct that addresses animal care. Empower farm employees as a team to report suspicious activity. Insure that your farm is exceeding standards for animal care. By keeping farms clean, working towards environmental standards and paying attention to small details it is something many farms already do. It’s just good business!
Know local law enforcement before there’s a problem. Pay attention to strange vehicles in the area and suspicious activity not only on your farm but neighboring ones as well. Identify people coming onto the farm, and never assume a buyer is truly a buyer.
Questions regarding volume, farm tours and other key points may be another red flag, especially in combination with other points. Talk to employees regularly, look for problems before they happen. Do what you can to hang on to good employees. Keep the farm well maintained.
Good employee management is more than just an interview and a paycheck. They represent your farm in their work – make that count. Make sure it’s the representation you want. Good employees are tough to find – but the wrong temporary one could be disastrous.