On-Farm Practices: Creating a Culture For Success

Our second workshop of the day, Managing Through Changing Labor Laws, kicked off with an introduction to the current landscape surrounding farm labor from Jackie Klippenstein, DFA’s senior vice president of industry and legislative affairs.

Moderated by Jackie, lawyers from the Rocky Mountain Employers Immigration Alliance gave an interactive presentation to help educate members and answer questions regarding on-farm labor laws, policies and documentation. These lawyers included Emily Curray, Rick Kornfeld and Kevin Paul, each of whom specialize in different key areas — from Form I-9s and proper documentation to wage and hour issues.

Emily, Rick and Kevin explained that if an employer learns an employee provided false documentation, or has expired documentation, a hard decision may need to be made in order to ensure the success and future of the farm.

“When you know [their documentation is not correct], you have to let them go,” said Kevin. “The question you have to decide as an employer is what is in your best interest. Your best interest has to come first.”

Discussing documentation even further, the lawyers said in order to be in compliance, your employee must fill out their Form I-9 on the first day of their job. You, as the employer, must finish your portion of their Form I-9 by the third day of their paid employment; however, the lawyers recommend completing all documentation as soon as possible.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audits were also a topic of conversation, and Rick explained, “We’re seeing ICE raids in a lot of places, but luckily we aren’t seeing many in agriculture, yet. Yet being the key word.”

He, as well as the other presenting lawyers, advised members to encourage their employees to always carry some type of identification in case agents or law enforcement stop them.

“We expect we will see more ICE agents on farm to detain employees,” Kevin said.

Before taking multiple questions from our farmer-members in attendance. The lawyers concluded with a single, key takeaway saying, “The best defense is a good compliance plan.”