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Creating an “If I get sick” farm action plan

  • 2.5 min read

Illness can disrupt a farm's operation. And COVID-19 striking key members of a farm family could be devastating. That's why experts strongly advise to develop a straightforward plan or list that allows for basic business continuity in case of serious illness.

David Heinrichs of Global Ag Risk Solutions says farmers tend to focus more on short-term issues like commodity prices and market access rather than longer-term considerations, like how the farm will function if they’re sick.

It’s natural, says Gordon Colledge, a farm advisor and owner of Advance Communications, that a farm family leader would expect the kids and spouse to step in if their health goes awry - but that doesn’t answer the what-ifs.

Write it down

Create a list of farm contacts, make plans for the upcoming season and put it all in one place.

Maggie Van Camp, BDO Canada’s National Agricultural Practice Development Leader, recommends creating a list. Include things like key farm contacts – crop advisers, accountants, lawyers, veterinarians, suppliers, emergency contacts, where you keep the tractor keys, as well as plans for the upcoming season and put all the information in one place. 

“There’ll be no tug of wars over where to plant a certain crop,” Colledge adds. “You’ll be resting in bed, recuperating from whatever COVID-19 sends your way, knowing your leadership met the challenge and won.”

Importance of neighbours

If a farmer has no spouse, family or close friends to turn to, it could create a huge disruption for the farm operation, says Heinrichs.

Van Camp stresses the importance of good relationships with neighbours too.

“Most people would be honoured to help,” Van Camp says. “In farming communities, we know what goes around, comes around and are here for each other in bad times.”

Jennifer Wright, Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council’s Senior HR Advisor, says it’s especially important for smaller farm operations to develop a community or neighbourhood component into their plans or lists.

At a time when the Canadian public is being told to socially isolate, it’s still important to maintain connections. Call on neighbours when needed and stick together as a community.

Bottom line

Preparing the farm for COVID-19 means setting plans in place for alternate leadership. Compiling important information into a list and keeping it in one place will help ease stress and ensure continuity on the farm. And maintain community connections, because we’re all in this together.


My “if I get sick” checklist

In the event of illness, compile a list of important farm information and keep it in one place. Here are a few examples of what to add to get you started.

  • Key farm partners contacts (crop advisors, accountants, lawyers, vets, suppliers)
  • Emergency contacts
  • Neighbours available for chores
  • Seeding plans for the upcoming season
  • Location of tractor keys and equipment manuals 
  • Animal feeding instructions
  • Septic pump tank responsibilities
  • Landlord information
  • Where to refill fuel tanks
  • Label switches, electrical panels and power bars
  • Notes on field records what has been sprayed and when
  • Security codes for computers, cell phones and sprayers