With the premise that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution to every farm labor need, the Kansas Association of wheat Growers will be offering a farm labor conference, at three locations, in January.

The conference, titled "Lets Give This Farm a Hand: A Farm Labor Conference for Farmers, Managers, and Family Partners," will be offered Jan. 9, at the City Limits Convention Center, in Colby; Jan. 10, at the 4-H Building, in Dodge City; and Jan. 11, at the Ramada Inn, in Hutchinson.

Speaking at the three identical conferences will be Sarah Fogleman, an agricultural economist on the Kansas State University faculty; and Juan Marinez, national program director on farm workers, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Fogleman has done extensive research on employee compensation and satisfaction in an agricultural setting, and, since joining K-State in 1999, has become a leader in this field. In addition to his work at the USDA, Marinez is assistant director for outreach with the Julian Samora Research Institute, at Michigan State University. He also is a co-developer of the dairy labor training program, at Michigan State.

Janet McPherson, KAWG director of market development, said, "Farm labor is a challenging issue for many Kansas farmers. Some operations are integrating family members as labor sources, while others need seasonal help and still others have full-time labor needs. This conference will help farmers and farm managers work through the process of defining the type of help they need and the ways to select, retain and compensate farm employees."

In describing the two conference presenters, McPherson said, "Marinez has conducted significant work in multi-cultural workforce issues and provides tremendous insight, especially regarding the Hispanic culture. I have had many farmers comment that their farming operations have benefited from Fogelman's insight. Her mix of humor and human resource management knowledge will inspire farmers, farm partners and managers to think about their farm enterprises and work relationships in a new way."

The general topics of the conferences will include job analysis and job description; training and performance evaluations; and compensation.

The cost to attend any of the three seminars is $40 for KAWG members; $60 for non-members; and $20 per person for additional people from an operation. Further information on these Farm Labor Conferences is available by contacting the KAWG office, in Manhattan, at 1-800-748-8034.

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