18 May Are there standards I must meet to host a farm intern?
T.P.New JerseyAnswer: Thank you for requesting information from ATTRA on what qualifications you must meet as a farm intern mentor. You also ask about any state or federal programs and other aspects of having interns work on your farm. Your state takes a strict view of farm workers as statutory employees. In fact, all states are moving toward a stricter interpretation of federal legislation such as the 1938 Wages and Hours Act. Please see the referenced document adopted this year by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners as guidance for its membership.This trend has implications for health and accident coverage, workers’ compensation, minimum wage, housing standards, and contractual relationships with farm workers. Please see the enclosed articles that explore some of the issues.The ATTRA Web site hosts the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (WSARE) Farm Intern Curriculum. To date, no credentialing system for farm mentors has evolved. Those colleges that accept farm internship experiences for college credit set their own standards and requirements.The National Center for Appropriate Technology makes no claims of any kind about content, accuracy, suitability, or comprehensiveness of legal information provided in this letter. It is the responsibility of farms to investigate applicability of federal, state, and local laws pertaining to wages and hours or any other legalities or interpretations of federal, state or local legislation. References:Boker-Smith, Jen and John. 2008. Farmers and New York State disability benefits insurance: A cautionary tale. Organic Farms, Folks & Foods. Winter. p. 14?15.Byczynski, Lynn. 1992. Becoming an employer: A primer on federal laws. Growing for Market. May. p. 4, 11.Byczynski, Lynn. 2007. Are your internships legal? Growing for Market. September. p. 13?15.Byczynski, Lynn. 2007. Exploring the legal and ethical issues of internships. Growing for Market. October. p. 14?15.NAIC/IAIABC. 2008. An Overview of Workers’ Compensation Independent Contractor Regulatory Approaches. October 24. 30 p.O’Brien, Elanor, and Jeff Falen. 2009. One farmer’s intern labor perspective. In Good Tilth (OR). January?February. p. 6, 19, 31. Response to Volheim article.Volheim, Erin. 2008. Outlawing farming internships. In Good Tilth. July?August. p. 12, 14, 15, 27.