“One of our biggest challenges is finding reliable and qualified labor,” explains Brent Drey, a corn and soybean farmer in northwestern Iowa. “Being able to haul the grain away is probably the most important factor during harvest.”
Have specific, consistent and written hiring criteria. “The No. 1 thing we look for is a clean driving record,” Drey says. “We also want people with a Class A CDL with air-brake endorsements.”
Drivers help maintain your livelihood, but an accident on the highway can spill precious grain and, worse, result in injuries or death. Avoid those risks by evaluating candidates against these criteria.
- Employment History. As a farm operator, you’ll need to take time to train any hires. Job-hoppers might not be worth the effort.
- Clean Record. Excess speeding tickets, charges from driving under the influence and other moving violations should be a red flag. Perform a background check for any criminal convictions.
- Tested Experience. Look for people with experience driving tractor trailers and determine whether they graduated from a professional truck-driving school.
- Regular Availability. Drivers must be available for a considerable amount of time during harvest. If candidates have another job, find out if they will be available when you need them on the farm.
- Reliable Skills. Seek an individual who is reliable. You need to be sure they will show up on time, be sober and have a good work ethic.
Clearly identify qualities you’re seeking in job descriptions to cover liability. “As our farm grows in acres and employees, the insurance grows incrementally,” Drey says.
If an accident occurs and a driver is found negligent, your operation’s insurance might not cover the damages. To avoid that risk, each driver should be processed through your insurance agency, which can check backgrounds, increase your coverage as needed and ensure drivers are aware of safety guidelines.