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How to keep your farm operating – even if you’re sick

2 min read

Illness or death can disrupt a farm's operation. That's why experts strongly advise developing a straightforward plan or list that allows for basic business continuity in case tragedy strikes the farm.

David Heinrichs of NFP insurance brokers 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. And it’s natural 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 Director of Agriculture, recommends creating a list. Include points like key farm contacts – crop advisers, accountants, lawyers, veterinarians, suppliers, emergency contacts, where you keep the tractor keys, and plans for the upcoming season and put all the information in one place. 

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 of the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council, says it’s especially important for smaller farm operations to develop a community or neighbourhood component into their plans or lists. Call on neighbours when needed and stick together as a community.

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

  • Property owner 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

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