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Contingency Plans for Dairy Farms: A Tool in a Crisis

Contingency Plans for Dairy Farms: A Tool in a Crisis
By Ginger D Fenton
If you read stories from survivors of plane crashes or from people who have been lost in the jungle or the wilderness, most of them have this in common. In order to survive, they devise a plan early and then execute that plan. Although it may be a simple plan, following that plan helps to provide focus and motivation to carry them through their ordeal.
The dairy industry is currently facing a situation that calls for you to have a contingency plan for your farm. The keyword is “contingency” meaning that it is possible this could happen, but not a certainty. This plan calls for preparation when your farm is affected by this disease. Industry professionals supporting dairy operations, including Penn State Extension, have come together to provide tools, resources, and guidance in developing your plan. As several of our team members are working with the Pennsylvania Center for Dairy Excellence to assist dairy producers with the preparation of contingency plans, we strongly urge you to consider developing your own plan.
A contingency plan can be beneficial for your farm because if or when the crisis arises, an organized written document would already exist and you will be better prepared to address issues that arise, while handling the stress related to this situation. As the farm owner or manager, you may not be able to execute your contingency plan if you are sick or have to care for a sick family member. Someone else may have that responsibility. In that case, this document will be their lifeline and provide them with the necessary information. The plan should be specific to your farm with consideration to your workforce, facilities and management practices. In developing a plan, you will delineate who is in charge, including who will replace that person if he/she gets sick, what you are going to do if the situation arises, and how you will communicate with farm personnel and others that support your operation.
Our professionals are ready to help you with your plan and can meet virtually or via a conference call. They are familiar with the resources that are available and can systematically guide you through the thought process for developing your plan. As you prepare to work with someone to develop your plan, start thinking about, and collect, the information described below for your plan:
  1. Create or copy a log sheet for tracking any visitors including service providers and deliveries to your farm. There are many existing templates available online, or you could make your own spreadsheet or table to collect information such as the date, time entering the farm, time exiting the farm, name of visitor, company or business, and purpose of visit.
  2. Define, mark and direct all farm traffic to a designated entrance and locate the log sheet there.
  3. Compile a contact lists for your employees or helpers including a number to reach them. If you have an existing list, make sure that it is up to date and that the numbers are accurate. Make another list of all service providers and industry personnel with whom your farm works, also check this list for accuracy. Think about the best way to reach to everyone on those lists, such as group text, email, or some other applications such as a private group through social media.
  4. Think about the tasks on your farm that are critical for day to day operations. Who performs them now? Who else knows how to do this? Do you need to train others to perform these tasks? Is there a written protocol or standard operating procedure if someone else must step in to complete the task? Identify these critical personnel, as well as people who could replace them if they get sick and develop a list with their names and contact information.
Know that professionals are here to help you prepare. Plan ahead and develop a contingency plan for your dairy farm.
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