In agriculture, as in most fields, workers and employees alike need ongoing training to keep up with changing requirements and advances in the field.
AgSafe, a nonprofit, has been providing specialized training in worker safety, health, human resources and food safety for 30 years, according to a press release.
Natalie Gupton, AgSafe’s vice president and chief operating officer, said nearly 100,000 employees, supervisors and farm workers have been trained over the years and that the $50,000 provided by the Farm Credit associations serving California since 2012 has been extremely helpful in making that happen.
“Our flagship event is our annual conference, and the support Farm Credit has given for that event has helped sustain it and ensure cost is not a barrier for the ag industry to attend,” Gupton said. “We certainly appreciate that support. We couldn’t do the work we do without the support you give us.”
Supporting Farm Credit institutions include American AgCredit, CoBank, Farm Credit West, and Fresno Madera Farm Credit – all of which are part of the nationwide Farm Credit System, the largest provider of credit to American agriculture.
Keith Hesterberg, president and chief executive officer of Fresno Madera Farm Credit, said Farm Credit supports AgSafe because worker safety is a high priority for the industry.
“The safety of the essential workers who harvest and process the crops that feed America and the world is a top priority for the industry, and AgSafe has been a leader in safety training since its founding in 1991,” Hesterberg said. “Supporting its ongoing training efforts is a great investment.”
Mark Littlefield, president and chief executive officer of Farm Credit West, said HR training is also important because employers need to stay abreast of ever-changing state laws and regulations.
“For example, the state requires farm labor contractors to take a nine-hour course each year to maintain a valid license,” Littlefield said. “Continuing education provided by AgSafe is an essential component of keeping our farms operating safely and in compliance with the state’s numerous employment laws, and Farm Credit is proud to help make it possible.”
The eight-person staff provides much of the training – much of it is developed by Vice President and Chief Education Officer Angelina Ceja with regional partners and guidance from state and federal agencies.
Gupton said AgSafe provides free informational webinars and materials that are available to groups or organizations involved in agricultural work in both English and Spanish. Grant opportunities had allowed the development of robust programs such as the California Agricultural Human Resource Certificate, a federal-focused Agricultural Human Resource Certificate and an H2-A Cost Estimator.
She said AgSafe can provide specialized training for farming businesses with specific needs, such as sexual harassment prevention, injury and illness prevention plan development, first aid and supervisor essentials.
A bulk of the training takes place in California – the nonprofit is based in Modesto – AgSafe is reaching out to farmers and ranchers in other states as well.
Currently, she said, AgSafe is concentrating on COVID-19 prevention and compliance.
“People are looking for more information about COVID, so we prioritized our efforts to focus on providing reliable information to help the industry navigate regulations and provide best practices to keep our workforce safe. New information is coming out almost daily and our goal is to provide timely and succinct information,” she said.
AgSafe’s goal is “to be the one-stop resource providing worker safety, health, and human resources, solutions for the food and farming industries. And we thank Farm Credit for its generous support in helping us strive toward that goal.”