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Genesee County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan

Genesee County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan

Genesee

Genesee County: Agricultural Development Plan WORK FORCE DEVELOPMENT Ten-Year Objective Develop innovative programs to address fundamental issues of labor supply, regulation, training, and employment benefits. Five-Year Action Plan Recommendation 1: Conduct Regulatory Compliance Workshops Complying with personnel laws, labor housing, and hiring immigrant labor are three troublesome issues addressed by farm operators. Currently, fear of the regulatory structure is a significant barrier to full employment of the available labor pool. Increasing the working knowledge of these businesses through specialized short courses would reduce many of these burdens. Priority Level 1: Immediate action in early program years. Cost Considerations: This recommendation would require low to moderate levels of in-house staffing and a budget of approximately $2,000 - $3,000 for providing technical manuals and program facilitators. Responsibility: CCE and GCC. Recommendation 2: Advocate for Improved Secondary Education Part of the farm labor shortage includes access to a skilled, local labor force. This labor force was formerly trained by the secondary education system. In the last decade and a half, farmers have seen this source of labor shrink precipitously. The County should encourage the Board of Education to support specific vocational training in support of the local agricultural base. In addition, the school systems’ guidance counselors should be trained on the opportunities available to students, both Regents’ scholars and BOCES students, in modern agriculture. Priority Level 1: Immediate action in early program years. Cost Considerations: This recommendation would require low to moderate levels of in-house staffing and a budget of approximately $3,000 - $5,000 for providing training materials to counselors. Responsibility: Primary responsibility should rest with CCE with support from the Chamber of Commerce. Recommendation 3: Develop Distance Learning Modules New entrants to the labor force, especially non-native English speaking populations, may need additional training resources delivered at the work place on an as needed basis. Developing specific distance learning courses for these individuals in English and foreign language modules will assist growers and manufacturers and may provide a revenue generating opportunity. Early modules may include: Copyright©, 2001: Agricultural & Community Development Services, Inc, Columbia, MD 23

Genesee County: Agricultural Development Plan ‣ Basic English for farm labor, ‣ Basic Spanish for labor managers, ‣ Licensing training (i.e., applicators licensing), ‣ Plant and insect identification, and ‣ Post harvest handling. Priority Level 2: Begin program in year 2 or 3. Cost Considerations: This recommendation would require high levels of in-house staffing and significant development resources which may not be recovered through product sales. A development budget of $25,000 should be considered. Responsibility: CCE, BOCES, and GCC. Recommendation 4: Open Regional Dialogue on Management Recruitment Farmers and agribusinesses throughout the region complain about the difficulty of recruiting and retaining qualified management. This is a limiting growth factor and may cause some firms to relocate instead of expanding operations locally. This seems to be an industry-wide issue and should be addressed economy-wide. Priority Level 2: Begin in year 2 or 3. Cost Considerations: This recommendation would require moderate levels of in-house staffing and should be within the current budget. Responsibility: CCE and IDA. PUBLIC OUTREACH AND EDUCATION Ten-Year Objective Develop innovative programs to address appropriate opportunities for education and training for farm and non-farm agricultural constituents focused on increasing public awareness and support for agriculture, Genesee’s number one industry. Five-Year Action Plan Recommendation 1: Expand Existing Programs to Educate Policy Makers and the General Public Genesee County through Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Chamber of Commerce currently provides exemplary public outreach and education. However, the non-farm public continues to expand faster than the farming public. Increasing the frequency of contact with policy makers and the public, especially school aged children, will help set the conditions for a growing appreciation of the agricultural industry. It is recommended that Cornell Cooperative Extension expand its in-school efforts to target high school aged students. Additionally, Cornell and the Chamber of Commerce should undertake a periodic policy memorandum to keep policy makers updated on agricultural issues. Priority Level 1: Immediate action in early program years. Copyright©, 2001: Agricultural & Community Development Services, Inc, Columbia, MD 24

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