Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Ernst and McFarland 2017 FSR Hall of Farm inducteesThe FSR will induct Stan Ernst and Louis McFarland into the 28th class of honorees for the Hall of Fame. Ernst and McFarland will join the 75 other individuals who have been recognized for their contribution to the FSR since its inception 55 years ago.Ernst has been a champion of the FSR and The Ohio State University for 27 years, specifically of the educational efforts conducted by the college and Ohio State University Extension. He served as news and media relations coordinator, Extension outreach program manager, and specialty crop/food business program manager and marketing specialist during his tenure at Ohio State. The various positions and areas of responsibilities that fell under Ernst’s leadership provided him the opportunity to continually direct quality educational programming.“This has helped shape and improve the standard of educational programming conducted by OSU Extension and others during the Review that continue to improve each year,” Zachrich said.For many years, Ernst led the program known as “Question the Authorities” which still exists today as “Ask The Expert,” where a variety of speakers discuss current topics in agriculture.“Stan will be remembered by many as the ‘Question Guy’ for his years in planning ‘Question the Authorities,’ but his efforts go far beyond just this program,” Zachrich said.On many occasions, Ernst, who now lives in State College, Pennsylvania, has stepped up to provide operational and physical support to FSR programs and projects.“His passion for the agricultural industry and for providing important information to farmers and the rural community on agricultural economics and other current agricultural topics has benefited and enhanced the experience of Review visitors for many years,” Zachrich said.The leadership and guidance provided by land improvement contractor McFarland over the past four decades has been instrumental in the construction of many educational and land improvement infrastructures at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center.“Many of us take for granted the construction and installation of the projects under the leadership of Louis at the Review’s site,” Zachrich said.Many field drainage improvements, pond construction, wetland construction and waterway construction have been led or assisted by McFarland and implemented under his thoughtful and watchful eye. These projects are located in various areas of the 2,100-square-foot facility including the FSR exhibit area, farm fields including field demonstration areas, and the Gwynne Conservation Area.“During a wet September, the quality of experience at the show is particularly enhanced for visitors and exhibitors alike because of the extensive drainage improvements Louis made to the Review’s site. Also, the ponds and wetland at the Gwynne are enjoyed by many and will be for years to come,” Zachrich said.McFarland of Circleville has also been instrumental in the development of an annual Ohio Land Improvement Contractors Association (OLICA) field day held as a portion of the FSR field demonstrations. The cropland and field demonstrations at the FSR benefit from the drainage improvements that OLICA continues to make annually. Tips for handling tough labor issues in agFaced with a decades-long struggle to find laborers, farmers can still do a lot to attract and keep their staff and lighten their load with technology.When the economy is healthy or at least improving, the search for farm employees becomes even more challenging even though farm wages, at $12 on average across Ohio, are well above the state’s minimum wage, said Gustavo Schuenemann, an Ohio State University Extension veterinarian.With farm work being so physically rigorous and requiring long work days, often people opt instead for an 8-hour work day in an office or store, said Schuenemann, who’s also an associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. Technology may be part of the solution to make up for the scarcity of workers, he said. Smart tractors drive themselves. An automatic feeder can push feed into the animal stalls periodically throughout the day so the animals can reach the food. A robot could even clean and prep a cow for mechanized milking.However, as useful as it is, technology likely won’t eliminate all staff necessary on a farm, so farmers still need to know how best to manage their staff, said Schuenemann, who will offer advice on managing farm labor during the FSR on Sept. 19. Schuenemann will speak from noon to 12:20 p.m. as part of the “Ask the Expert” program offered daily at the FSR.While fair pay and offering health insurance can be a drawing card for employees, the most common complaint Schuenemann hears from farm workers is that they’re poorly managed. Frequently, farmers and farm managers create work schedules that don’t offer some flexibility and take into consideration the workers’ needs, Schuenemann pointed out. An employee may not want a night shift or a Sunday shift, or he or she may not want or be able to work 12 hours at a time for six or seven days a week, or work on ever-changing shifts. Any resulting discontentment among employees increases the odds that the workers quit, Schuenemann said.Aggressive-style management rarely works, he said. Farmers need to put themselves in the shoes of their workers because empathy can go a long way toward creating an environment in which employees want to stay.“A farmer might start out taking care of 200 cattle, but in 15 years, could grow to have 2,000 or more. At that point, he’s managing people, not just cows,” but he might not have the skills needed to manage the staff, Schuenemann said. “You can find people who know how to work with cows, but it’s difficult to find people who like or know how to manage other people, and that’s an important problem to fix.”If it isn’t, turnover is inevitable. Some farmers Schuenemann has worked with see over half their employees leave every year.“They never stop training people,” he said. “It’s a futile cycle. People are leaving and coming, leaving and coming.”Many times farm employees and their managers don’t communicate with each other often enough, so problems arise and discontentment can grow quickly, Schuenemann said. The farm owner or a manager should meet with employees at least once a week to discuss and resolve any problems, he said.“If the farmer focuses on managing the work environment, it has a profound impact on everyone’s attitude,” Schuenemann said. “And when attitude goes up, everything gets better without much investment.”
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The first stop of the Ohio Ag Net/ WIMT T102 Fall Feeding Farmers Tour stopped in Allen County at the Farm of Paul Neff. Dale Minyo talked with Paul about the history of the farm and the struggles everyone faced this past year. Like most, Paul had a late planting season with even later replanting.