Academic and Work/Training Experience
During the trainees’ 19 month training experience in the U.S., they spend five (5) months in academic training and 14 months of work/training on the farm.
Big Bend Community College (BBCC) provides Phase I Institutional Training. Upon arrival in the U.S., trainees spend eight (8) weeks at BBCC where they are instructed in English as a Second Language (ESL) and introduced to American culture and American agriculture. Trainees are issued international driver’s licenses before coming to the U.S. and are given introductory tractor driving lessons at BBCC. They also apply for and are issued Social Security Numbers while at BBCC.
Following instruction at BBCC, the trainees are placed on farms for about 14 months. Trainees are assigned to farms throughout the United States, where they work toward developing expertise in their chosen agricultural career specialty. Trainees specialize in dairy, beef, swine, poultry, landscaping, potted plants, cut flowers, vegetable, citrus, and fruit.
Phase II Institutional Training is provided after the farm work/training experience. Trainees spend approximately 8 weeks at a U.S. college or university receiving agricultural instruction in their specialty, and agricultural management combined with field trips and laboratory demonstrations. During this time trainees stay with host families, providing the trainee with a non-agricultural American family experience.
Following Phase II Institutional Training, trainees take an educational trip to their destination(s) of choice in the U.S., after which they return to Seattle for a closing ceremony before returning to Japan.
The Program is self-sustaining, with a portion of each trainees’ earnings used to cover their expenses for academic training, transportation, health services, living expenses, and other costs associated with their stay in the U.S.
Host farms play a vital role in these programs, because they offer the trainees a firsthand experience of U.S. farm life and are responsible for providing structure and supervision. From the beginning to the end of the program, the BBCC JATP Director and the JAEC provide support and coordination.
Trainees are selected by staff members of the Japan Agricultural Exchange Council in Tokyo. Trainees are generally between the ages of 19 and 30 years old, and many are nominated by their Prefecture Government to participate in the program. Applicants must be single, graduates of high school (or must have completed equivalent training in a technical institution), and must intend to pursue a career in agriculture. Most trainees have attended or graduated from an agriculture college. Leaders are chosen from these groups to aid in providing information and direction to other trainees, particularly when trainees are undergoing academic training.
The work/training experience serves two purposes: to provide practical, on-the-farm training where the trainees can apply the skills acquired in school and the skills from their farm experience in Japan. This allows the trainee to evaluate different methods of management, farming practices, and culture as compared to those in Japan. Secondly, the trainees are provided paths by which to finance their stay in the U.S., as provided in the contract between the host farm and the trainee.
Compensation: The policy of the program is that the minimum compensation of the trainees is based on the state prevailing wage rate for entry-level workers in each type of activity. This simply requires that the trainee be compensated at a rate equivalent to or higher than the prevailing wage in that particular type of work.
The host farm agrees to compensate the trainee directly, once every month or every two weeks, in accordance with the prevailing payment practice in the industry or in the region. Trainees are paid wages at a rate commensurate with their performance and responsibility, in an amount computed at not less than the rate approved by the United States Department of Labor, and, in any event, not less than the applicable state minimum wage.
If a trainee is living with a host farm family, a daily meal allowance may be deducted from the trainee’s compensation.
Trainees are responsible for setting up individual checking accounts and sending a portion of their monthly compensation to the JAEC, where trainee accounts are managed. (The JAEC office manages the schooling, administrative, and transportation costs for the trainees.) The remaining portion of the trainees’ compensation will be used for meal expenses, final trip expenses, and personal spending money.
Housing and Workman’s Compensation: The host farm is required to provide lodging to the trainee, without cost. Housing must be sanitary and conform to pertinent federal and state housing regulations. Trainees are not to be housed in accommodations shared jointly with non-JATP workers. Sometimes the trainee lives in the host farmer’s home.
The host farm is required to provide insurance for occupational injury or disease. In states where Workman’s Compensation law requires coverage of agricultural workers, the trainee must be insured. In states where coverage is optional, the host farm must provide coverage through the State Workmen’s Compensation or provide equivalent protection through a private carrier.
Transportation: The host farm agrees to provide transportation to and from the trainee’s on-the-job living quarters to the work site and shopping facilities without cost to the trainee.
Transportation from the trainee’s living quarters to the nearest shopping facilities is required at least once a week. Trainees are not permitted to own or rent automobiles. If the host farm allows, trainees are permitted to drive host farm vehicles, and may be required to do so as part of their work/training assignment. When driving is permitted or required by the host farm, vehicles shall be properly licensed and covered by adequate owner’s liability insurance. (States differ in liability insurance requirements.) Trainees must not operate a motor vehicle on a public roadway unless: the trainee has the expressed permission of the host farm to drive the vehicle, and the trainee is legally licensed by the state to operate such vehicles.
Educational Leave: The trainee is permitted an educational travel leave after the completion of four or more months of the farm work/training portion of the program. (Travel leave is not permitted in the final month of farm training.) Such leave must be: in a slack farming period; no more than seven days (including departure and arrival days); and must be approved by the host farm and JAEC. Leave permits are obtained from the JAEC and must include the travel itinerary and contact information where the trainee can be reached. Travel outside the United States is not permitted.
Host Farm Training Responsibility: Trainees are placed on farms for long-term assignments with the understanding that they will be exposed to all aspects of the farm operation. The training objective is to gain maximum insight into the methods and economics of American farming, which might include such things as soil preparation, seeding, cultivation, reproduction, harvesting, marketing, and management. In most instances, the host farm will find that time spent in training is rewarding. The trainee will not only be able to assume greater responsibility, but will become more eager to carry out the duties, and will therefore become more productive.
Record Keeping: Prompt and accurate reporting of wage and hourly work information is required to properly administer the program. Each host farm shall keep accurate and adequate records of the compensation and hours of work/training of each trainee.
Community Involvement: Host farms are asked to involve the trainee as much as possible in civic and community affairs. Exposure to community organizations not only expands the interest in the program, but it also enhances the trainee’s knowledge of American culture and English language skills.
Academic instruction tailored to trainee requirements continues to be a principal objective of the colleges involved in the academic portions of the program (Phase I and Phase II).
Host Families: College coordinators identify host families to provide the trainee with a non-agricultural American family experience during Phase II Institutional Training.
Field Trips: Field trips add to the educational value of the academic training and enhance coursework by providing real-world exposure to topics discussed in the classroom.
Outside Activities: Trainees are given the opportunity to develop associations with Americans and their institutions. Participation in college organizations and other community groups in the college is encouraged.