Farmers are preparing for spring planting, which means activity levels are increasing on the farm for things like field preparation and on-farm deliveries. A guide by the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) offers tips to manage COVID-19 on the farm. NCGA says limiting interactions and exposure is a good idea to limit exposure and risk related to COVID-19, as it is critical to practice biosecurity for your family, your employees, the public, and animals. Listed below is NCGA recommendations for COVID-19 planning and procedures.
- Identify and coordinate a drop-off location for supplier deliveries to the farm. If possible, set this up away from on-farm high traffic areas and housing.
- Create specific instructions for drop-off deliveries.
- Provide the location and all procedures needed at the drop-off point.
- Create signage to easily identify drop-off points.
- List all point of contacts with contact information to assist with questions leading up to delivery and upon arrival.
- Practice distancing with delivery drivers. In these circumstances, it is best not to greet them with a handshake. Instead, keep a recommended distance of at least six feet. Avoiding personal interaction is best
- Log all deliveries and on-farm entries.
- Utilize a visitor’s log for everyone entering the farm.
- Monitor personal travel with a personal travel log.
- Prepare an on-farm workforce, including your family members.
- Provide guidance for handwashing and handling materials. Make sure guidance is available and communicated to employees.
- If you have off-farm employees or seasonal help alert them, all sick employees must stay at home.
- If you have added sanitizing materials to the shop or in truck and equipment, alert employees where they can find them.
- If your operation has a significant number of employees, encourage them to avoid large gatherings and practice social distancing during non-work hours.
- Sanitize contact surfaces.
- Disinfect all door handles and knobs, floor mats, steering wheels and other commonly contacted surfaces.
- Sanitize common gathering places – shops, lunch areas, office spaces.
It is recommended that all farms have Continuity of Business (COB) plans, to keep operations running smoothly in case of any disruption. Many state departments of agriculture are recommending farms review and update or write a continuity of business plan in case of disruption due to COVID-19. COB plans are critical for all operations; however, small farms may be at greater risk if a disruption occurs because the owner may be the sole caretaker.
NCGA also says it is important to have written documentation of your business operations in case of illness, so that another family member or neighbor can assist if you need to be isolated or treated due to COVID-19. Regardless of operation size, production practices, or type of operations, you are strongly encouraged to develop COB plans in case of illness or injury and communicate the plan to family or another person who can step in.
Northern Ag Network – 2020