How to make a COVID-19 farm contingency plan

Here are some ideas to minimize the chances of COVID-19 striking and what to do if it does hit your farm.

So what would you do if you or a key member of your farm became ill from the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19)? Here are a few ideas from the National Corn Growers Association that farmers should consider.

* Schedule a brainstorming meeting with all family and employees involved in the operation to discuss possible scenarios, solutions to potential disruptions during planting and subsequent fieldwork. Make a list of immediate changes that can lower risk.

* Minimize the exposure of outsiders. Use telephone, emails or texts for communications with employees or contractors who do not reside on the farm. Observe appropriate social distancing if someone needs to visit the farm or work on site.

* Consider cross-training of family members and employees regarding key functions and appropriate safe operation of equipment.

* Increase sanitation of workspaces and make it part of your daily/weekly routine. Simple things like disinfecting work surfaces, countertops, computer keyboards, doorknobs, hand railings, tractor controls, and monitors can make a difference.

* Make cleaning supplies readily available, including cleaning solutions, buckets, mops, brushes, and other materials for cleaning break areas and the shop readily available. Place disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer on equipment and in truck cabs and in high traffic areas.

* Stay in the house if you’re sick. Farmers and their employees regularly work while sick. This is a time to break that tradition. If employees are sick, tell them to stay home, and if the family is sick, they should isolate themselves as much as possible and not visit work areas.

* Develop a written contingency plan and make sure everyone has a copy. Are there neighboring farmers who might be able to share resources and or labor in an emergency? Who will manage for a few weeks if you or another key person is unable to leave your house or are hospitalized?

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