Oregon Aglink Blog

Our Most Valuable Resource

Posted on March 22, 2022
A young woman with long dark hair stands in a wheat field. She is wearing a plaid flannel shirt and smiling at the camera.
Mallory Phelan, executive director of Oregon Aglink

For most agricultural businesses, labor is the most expensive part of the budget – and at the same time the most crucial part of an operation, whether that’s on a farm or ranch or within a supplier or professional service provider for agri-businesses.

People are the drivers of the work and the success of companies not only within agriculture, but across industries around the globe. With the tightest labor market seen in decades, job openings posted everywhere, and fierce competition for employees, many businesses have been taking a hard look at the wages as well as benefits they’re able to offer to attract and retain workers. 

Sometimes the benefits of a workplace come down to the numbers. In the case of health insurance, whether it’s simply following guidelines or going above and beyond, the financial cost and paperwork of medical plans are a dual challenge faced by operations as they manage their labor force. Luckily, Oregon Aglink members with qualifying SIC codes for farms, ranches, and processing companies including wineries, breweries, and distilleries can access the best health insurance plans at the best value throughout the state.

Our partners at Leonard Adams Company have worked with us to create an easy path to valuable health insurance, whether you have recently renewed with a provider or are looking to add or increase coverage for employees and their dependents. As a business you can choose from over twenty medical plans to find the best selection for your company, and then employees choose from there. Our members are saving on average ten to thirty percent, so we encourage everyone to visit aglink.org/benefits to learn more, get a quote, and find the best fit for your business.

Many farms and ranches have also found that employees join up and stick around for reasons that extend beyond line items in a budget.

One of my favorite things to learn about is how businesses find unique ways to foster a sense of community, belonging, and appreciation. Celebrating birthdays and hiring anniversaries – from food (donuts or cupcakes anyone?) to social media posts a little goes a long way. I know of a grass seed farm who raises a couple head of cattle each year to help fill their employees’ freezers with beef. They have the land and it’s something they can easily manage. Another farm I know has a monthly themed potluck where employees bring side dishes and the farm buys the main entree. There are so many fun ways to make a job feel like more than just a place to work. 

The most successful companies know the value of investing in their people.

It not only helps you stand out in a crowded labor market, but it’s what creates employees who want to work with you for a long time. The nature of agriculture and its tight squeeze of markets mean that farms and ranches don’t always have the flexibility to increase their prices to cover other costs, but the creativity and hard work of Oregon agriculture will no doubt find a way.

Here at Oregon Aglink, we will continue to share success stories and resources to help make that happen.

Mallory Phelan

Executive Director

Oregon Aglink