Farming and COVID-19: Put a plan in place

Republished with permission of South Dakota Corn.

Farmers had a lot on their minds heading into spring. Coming off of a flood-ravaged 2019 growing season, low grain prices and the prospect of fields being dry enough to plant were shaky.

Then they received another major kick in the teeth with the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has further battered the agricultural economy.

The pandemic raises numerous concerns as planting season nears. What steps can a farmer take to reduce the risk of COVID-19? And what happens if a farmer, family member or employee becomes ill with the virus? Do you have a contingency plan?

Farmers may feel the odds are in their favor to stay healthy because of the remote nature of their business, but being wrong can create some serious complications. Most of these issues can be avoided with a contingency plan for the farm.

Because there are so many things to think about, South Dakota Corn has worked with the National Corn Growers Association to compile a list of sound practices, safety procedures and planning recommendations that may help get through this challenging time. Here are some of those ideas.

On-farm planning

  • Schedule a brainstorming meeting with all family members and employees involved in the operation to discuss possible scenarios, solutions to potential disruptions during planting and subsequent fieldwork.
  • Develop a written continency plan. Are there neighbors who might be able to share resources and/or labor in an emergency? Who would manage for a few weeks if you or another key person is unable to leave your house or is hospitalized?
  • Make a list of immediate changes that can be implemented to lower risk on your farm.
  • Consider developing a Continuity of Business (COB) plan to keep operations running smoothly in case of any disruption. Many state departments of agriculture recommend that farms write COB plans.

Receiving deliveries

  • Identify and coordinate a drop-off location for deliveries of supplies to the farm. If possible, set this up away from on-farm high traffic areas and housing.
  • Create specific instructions for drop-off deliveries.
  • Create signs so drop-off points can be easily identified.
  • Practice distancing with delivery drivers. Maintain a distance of at least six feet and don’t shake hands.
  • Avoiding personal interaction is best.
  • Log all deliveries and on-farm entries. Utilize a visitors log for everyone entering the farm.

On-farm safety procedures

  • Minimize the exposure of outsiders. Use telephone calls, emails or texts for communications with employees or contractors who don’t live on the farm. Observe social distancing if someone visits the farm.
  • 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 and brushes to clean the shop and break areas. Place disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer on equipment, in truck cabs and in high-traffic areas.
  • Stay in the house if you’re sick. If family members are sick, they should isolate themselves as much as possible. If you have off-farm employees or seasonal help, alert them that all sick employees must stay home.
  • Inform employees where they can find sanitizing materials in the shop, in the truck and in the tractor.
  • Regularly sanitize door handles, floor mats, steering wheels and other commonly contacted surfaces.

Read the full article at https://www.sdcorn.org/2020/04/farming-and-covid-19-put-plan-in-place/

© 2020 CHS Inc.

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