Jessica working in her office©Brianna Frey

Farming is a hard business; physically, emotionally and mentally. So many things dictate our businesses that are out of our control.

In recent years the increase in regulations, monitoring and auditing have put an increased stress on us.

It is primarily my job, as the wife, to handle all “office” work. There are different categories of office work – there are the standard business duties, chosen regulations and the increasing, unchosen regulations.

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The standard duties consist of bookkeeping, payroll, accounting and taxes. My husband and I work together on bookkeeping.

I handle all human resource, payroll and housing (all our employees live on our farm) responsibilities.

I use an accounting firm to manage my taxes and accounting needs, but it still takes hours to communicate with them.

As an organic dairy whose milk is marketed over the San Francisco metropolis, we have many chosen regulations to set our product apart and increase its value.

We choose to be USDA certified organic and American Humane Certified. These regulations focus on traceability.

It has become a job in its own, on our farm, to manage these tasks. We must account for the feed, animal ID, treatments, animal and field inputs and employee operating procedures in a much different way than before.

The record-keeping takes hours, numerous binders and computer spreadsheets to be able to properly handle all auditing that comes with these chosen regulations.

The regulations that really weigh me down are the new water quality, truck emissions, and hazardous materials.

I have to report to so many new agencies. Most have moved to online reporting, which means I have to understand numerous websites all with different passwords and rules. It has become overwhelming the different agencies that are requesting information from dairies.

The unchosen regulations are overbearing on small family dairy farms. The information is often times irrelevant to our everyday practices.

The ways of reporting aren’t in line with the businesses they are requesting this information from. In general they are dragging down my daily workload.


Jessica McIsaac milks 350 pedigree Holsteins in Petaluma, California, with her husband Neil. They sell organic milk and also have 6,000 laying hens.