Do you have a COVID-19 back-up plan ready for your farm?

In a recent survey from Farm Market iD with farmers, 7 in 10 farmers do not have a backup operating plan if they contract the virus.

As we head into planting and then summer, it’s important to do some scenario planning and come up with a backup plan in the case that you, a family member or business partner contracts COVID-19.

Granular customer Matt Wallington from Hanover Ridge Farms in Saskatchewan, Canada explains why he has worked the past few weeks to develop COVID-19 protocols.

Granular customer CY Farms in New York shares how they're handling team meetings while also practicing social distancing on the farm.

“Farms rely on key employees to get the processes completed at critical times of the year. COVID-19 has forced me to think about scenarios if one or all of our farm’s key employees were to become sick or isolated and unable to work. We have collaborated with neighboring farms to put together protocol to do everything in our power to ensure the virus doesn’t enter our farm during the critical season and if it does, how to limit its impact.

Wallington said one specific tip that seems to be working well is having one designated person run to town for errands. The rest of the team then coordinates all daily pick-ups and drops-offs with that person.

CY Farms LLC, based in Elba, New York and also a Granular customer recently posted on social media how they are reconsidering their plan of attack for spring fieldwork, as well as incorporating safe distancing during their daily work meetings.

Top things to keep in mind when creating a COVID-19 plan for your farm:

Prevention protocols

Require personal guidelines for maintaining proper precautions both on the farm and off the farm (at home)
  • hand washing/sanitizing
  • cover cough/sneeze with inside of elbow
  • social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart)
  • limiting trips to town/large crowds of people
Daily self health assessments – stay home if you have any cold symptoms, shortness of breath or any sign of fever
Frequent cleaning or sanitizing of commonly touched spaces
  • Equip vehicles, machinery and works spaces with sanitation wipes
  • Limit frequently switching vehicles between individuals
Wear a non-surgical masks when not in your home

Possible changes to roles & responsibilities on the farm

Consider cross-training skills between those working on the farm
  • Be sure multiple individuals know how to run key equipment and machines
  • Consider involving a second or third person in decision making plans for the next 30 – 90 days
    • Share key contact information of business partners
    • Document decisions as they are made (i.e. inputs contracted, etc.)
  • Outline who will need to step into roles, and what those roles would be
    • For example: identify who will drive decisions in the absence of the typical decision maker
Reach out to neighbors/family members/community members who can serve as a back-up
  • Communicate what would be needed/expected in the case they would need to step in and help during critical windows (i.e. planting)
Consider creating a group text message or phone tree to keep everyone involved in daily communications and updates

Limiting traffic in and out of your farming operation

Utilize virtual meetings with vendors and suppliers
If hauling/delivering grain: don’t get out of your truck
Ensure that those hauling chemicals are keeping safe with proper precautions
Organize safe seed/fertilizer/chem delivery or pick up
  • Consider getting it earlier to minimize concerns about access
Leave materials brought to the farm in your shop or shed for 48 hours or sanitize before using

Granular is committed to helping farmers during these trying times. We are happy to meet with you as you develop your COVID-19 backup plan. Contact us at 888-435-4726.

Additional COVID-19 Resources:

The CDC has outlined Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) as well as how to Get Your Home Ready that provide great guidelines for us to consider. It is also important to stay up to date with your local COVID-19 guidelines.

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