Paying workers “in-kind,” or with non-cash goods and services such as food and lodging in place of cash, can be a win-win situation for both the farmer and the workers. One big boon for farmers is that offering in-kind payments can reduce cash flow concerns. A farmer might even be able to meet their minimum wage obligations by paying workers with resources the farm already has in abundance. Providing in-kind payments can also help cultivate a friendlier and more fulfilling experience for the farmer and worker who both might otherwise feel isolated in a rural setting. The perks of in-kind payments might attract workers interested in a richer experience, including living on the farm, having access to fresh, valuable farm products, and perhaps even enjoying shared meals.
While paying workers in-kind comes with a unique set of legal implications, the good news is that it generally can be done. This guide highlights 12 things farmers need to know and do when paying workers with goods and services. Equipped with this knowledge, farmers can decide whether paying in-kind is a good option for them, and, if so, know how to do it with minimum legal risk.