Farm owners should look at the houses they provide on farm and do the 'would I live in this house?' test, writes Federated Farmers Dairy Policy Advisor Ann Thompson.

Workers are fundamental on most dairy farms.

Many of these people live on the farm.

A recent report shows accommodation is provided to 80 per cent of permanent staff. This survey was filled out by approximately 1000 farmers.


I'd like to think these workers were housed in warm, dry accommodation. If you need people to help you run your farming business, surely, it's in your own best interest to provide the same level of comfort you give to yourself and your own family.

However, this is not always so, and because workers may have no other accommodation option due to the location of the farm, they may be stuck with a very cold, damp, draughty house or no job.

Read more from Federated Farmers here.

Another factor in this equation is the tight rural job market – there are more farm owners looking to employ than there are job applicants.

While the dairying season feels like it has only just started, sharemilkers and contract milkers will be starting to look for their next job, and one of the things they will be putting in the mix is the state of the accommodation.

For this reason, farm owners could take the time to have a look at the houses they provide on farm and do the 'would I live in this house' test, now.

Yes, the regulations now require that smoke alarms need to be installed, and insulation where practical by July 2019, and possibly more regulations still to come in around 'healthy homes', but there is much more that could entice a new worker to stay.

Then there's the question of drugs on farm - should farm owners consider testing the accommodation for methamphetamine contamination before the new worker comes on farm? I think so, given the risk.

It also sets a base-line for annual testing, something workers and farm owners should embrace and could be incorporated into the contract.

It also assures them the home provided is a healthy one and shows you are serious about making your farm drug free.

A good farm house will ensure the very best employees are attracted to your farm.