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SUBMITTED by Kara Lynn Dunn (24-Apr-2012)

The New York Farm Viability Institute’s bilingual dairy training project has spunoff an independent program in support of Western New York dairy farms with Spanish-speaking employees.
Learning a new job can be tough enough – imagine trying to learn it in a foreign language, and then add that the job is working with dairy animals.

Thanks to a New York Farm Viability Institute project designed to help facilitate the training of Spanish-speaking employees on New York’s dairy farms, farms are seeing the benefits and Western New York dairies now have access to a new dairy-knowledgeable, culturally-sensitive bilingual trainer.

Based on the success of the bilingual project on farms in more than two dozen New York counties since the program began in 2007, the North West New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops Team of Cornell Cooperative Extension and PRO-DAIRY have recently hired a Dairy Hispanic Training Associate to work with farms in the 10-county region.

New York Farm Viability Institute (NYFVI) Managing Director David Grusenmeyer says, “This spinoff from the Institute’s successful demonstration project is a perfect example of the agricultural community seeing the value of an initiative supported by the Institute and now making it their own to meet a specific need for New York’s agricultural industry.
“Worker retention is a key concern for any employer. Most Spanish-speaking employees on dairy farms are interested in learning new skills or improving existing skills,” he adds. “Bilingual trainers with technical knowledge about the dairy industry can help minimize language and cultural barriers so willing workers can learn to handle more responsibility and make New York’s farms stronger.”
Grusenmeyer and Cornell University colleague Thomas Maloney were the first to report on Hispanic dairy farm labor issues in the northeast in 2005. Grusenmeyer says, “Our survey of farm owners and employees identified language and communication issues as the two of the top challenges on dairy farms.”

In 2007, the NYFVI developed a pilot project to provide dairy owners with access to an educator-trainer well-studied in the dairy industry and Spanish-speaking cultures, and fluent in both English and Spanish.
Project leader Jerry Bertoldo notes, “The cultural aspects of this type of training are a vital aspect of its success. An educator needs to have a skill for putting the Latino employees at ease and gaining their respect with an understanding of their culture, customs, and dialect of Spanish.”
Project educator Greg Coffta developed Spanish language training resources on milking parlor protocols, bovine reproduction, herd health, calving and calf care, and other topics. Individual training sessions were customized to fit each farm business’s specific needs.

Jeff Mulligan of Mulligan Farm in Avon, NY, has Spanish-speaking employees in such critical roles as assistant herdsman, feeder, and fresh cow caretaker. He says, “Having access to a trainer who speaks Spanish is especially important when you introduce new equipment on the farm.”
Katie Stein of D&D Dairy of Scottsville, NY, says, “We need this program to help us communicate with our workers and to make the farm work well. For example, Greg did a Spanish language training on heat detection here that has helped us get our cows bred sooner which helps us make more milk. This program is a great asset to us and critical to our farms’ success.”
D&D Dairy has already begun working with Libby Gaige, Coffta’s successor. Gaige brings bilingual fluency, Cornell Animal Science and Spanish degrees, and experience with the Peace Corps and on dairy farms in New York and Spain to her new role in Western New York.
“This project now moves forward with support from farmers who pay a fee-for-service and with funding through Cornell University and the 10-county North West New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops Team. People took note of the success of the project and the transfer of this training has been a perfect segue from the Institute to the industry,” Bertoldo says.
To learn more about the North West New York Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team’s new Dairy Hispanic training program, visit the Cornell Cooperative Extension office at 420 East Main Street, Batavia, NY; or call 585-343-3040 ext.133; the Team’s bilingual printed resources, include the Spanish language edition of the “Calf Manager” CD are online at www.nwnyteam.org/Hispanic%20Training/.

Learn more about the New York Farm Viability Institute at http://www.nyfvi.org.


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1 Comment to "NYFVI Bilingual Project Prompts Spinoff for NY Dairy Farms"

  1. Gil Burgess Said,

    Sounds like a win-win situation:making it easier for motivated workers to effectively do their job!

    Posted on Mon May 21, 09:42:00 PM EDT


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