Assessment of Labor Recruitment & Retention Challenges in the Cattle Feeding Industry
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Labor management in the feedyard industry is a primary concern with beef demand growing and a higher percentage of young adults pursuing college and urban careers rather than rural jobs. In this analysis, several labor challenges within the cattle feeding industry are identified and investigated. As immigration policy floats back and forth in the political spectrum, feedyards continue to increase their reliance on immigrant and minority labor because of the decline of the native born American’s interest in feedyard employment. Little research has been done to evaluate the differences between labor recruitment and retention in the cattle feeding industry, especially in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. This region is responsible for 28% of the nation’s fed cattle production. An assessment of the challenges management and employees face is imperative and warranted. In order to understand the gaps between the employer and the employee, two survey instruments were designed to create benchmark data regarding employee management as well as attitudes and perceptions of laborers. These surveys were used to understand the industry’s struggles between feedyard general managers and feedyard laborers (any employee subordinate to the general manager). In order to generate the survey instruments, discussions occurred with four regional feedyard managers. In each meeting the managers expressed their concerns and the issues they encounter in recruiting and retaining employees. Through the interviews, many challenges were discovered that feedyard mangers in the industry currently handle on a day-to-day basis. Primary data elicited from feedyard general managers and feedyard laborers was evaluated and analyzed using chi-square analyses. Significant differences were discovered among different feedyard structures, sizes, departments, and ethnicities. The demographics, perceptions, and opinions derived from the feedyard work force was then utilized in ordered logit models to better understand the factors which impact not only the satisfaction of an employee, but also the likelihood of promoting this field of employment to their children.