Employee Training in Agriculture  

Craig Chase, Farm and Ag Management Field Specialist,  Northeast Iowa   

Problems - New agribusiness personnel do not have the same agricultural background as previous employees, with many of the new hires at least two generations removed from the farm.  This situation makes it difficult for farmers to explain their problems and feel like they are getting the best service available.  To correct this communication/understanding gap, agribusinesses are looking for ways to increase their employees understanding of their products and the issues and decisions farmers face in today’s changing agricultural environment.           

Response - An Iowa State University (ISU) Extension team first responded to this need by developing two eight-hour workshops for John Deere.  The first focused on North American agriculture, whereas the second took a more global perspective.  Over 2,500 John Deere employees have attended these workshops in Waterloo and a shorter version of the North American workshop is now part of new employee training.  Because of the success of these sessions in Waterloo, the training has been offered at Moline, Illinois; Madison, Wisconsin; Johnston, Iowa; and Ankeny, Iowa.   

Impact - A review of a random selection of 251 end of the session evaluations indicate over 97% of the employees found the training to be beneficial and would recommend the training to other employees.  Instructors were consistently rated high (4 or 5 on a 5 point scale).  Employees were asked what was the most useful skill or knowledge they learned in this class that can help you on the job.  Specific comments include; “Customers expect quality so do your best to make quality tractors,” “Importance of customer needs, wants.  Quality is essential,” “That what we make has a huge impact on farmers,” and “That farmers are very important to this job.”

Comments like these indicate that employees better understand the connection between themselves and their farmer customers.  Improving the quality of a tractor does help producer’s profitability and according to some John Deere officials, they believe the program is leading to the development of better products and services.  For more information about the John Deere project or potential workshops for other agribusinesses, please contact Craig Chase at (319) 234-6811 or cchase@iastate.edu.


March 18, 2005 
104 -- Agricultural Risk and Financial Management   


Page last updated: July 8, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu