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How to Develop a Farm-Level Crisis Plan

swine farm What if? This little question can have huge implications for emergency planning. The Pork Checkoff’s new Farm-level Crisis Response Plan can simplify the process—and offer you greater peace of mind.

“As a pork producer, I know first-hand the implications of a farm-level crisis,” says Julie Maschhoff, a producer from Carlyle, Ill., and member of the National Pork Board. “We’ve dealt with everything from flooding to tornadoes to fires, and we’ve learned that having a crisis management plan helps us stay focused.”

The Farm-Level Crisis Response Plan template, which is designed for confidential use, can be downloaded for free. This easy-to-use tool provides a customizable, step-by-step framework for evaluating your risk of on-farm crisis situations and addressing issues before they become a challenge. The process takes about 45 minutes to one hour to complete.

“While nobody likes to think about the things that could go wrong on the farm, the Farm-Level Crisis Response Plan is like an insurance policy,” says Cindy Cunningham, assistant vice president of communications for the National Pork Board. “You may never need to use it, but it helps you respond effectively, should a crisis occur.”

Getting back to business-as-usual
The Farm-Level Crisis Response Plan outlines five crisis response steps, as well as how to assess the intensity level of a crisis, including fires, weather disasters, disease outbreaks and more. The plan includes guidance to:
hogs in barn
• Assemble, prepare and activate a crisis team.
• Assess areas of vulnerability.
• Determine the most important communication audiences.
• Capture information needed to make timely, accurate decisions.
• Take steps to control the situation using hour-by-hour checklists.

“Whether you have a large or small farm, you can never be too prepared for a crisis or emergency,” says Derrick Sleezer, a pork producer from Cherokee, Iowa, and National Pork Board member who notes that the Farm-Level Crisis Response Plan is a sister document to the PQA Plus’s Emergency Action Plan.

The goal of any crisis plan is to return to business-as-usual as quickly as possible, Maschhoff says.

“I encourage other producers to establish a Farm-Level Crisis Plan and Emergency Action Plan for their farms. You never know when your operation will be the front line of defense for the entire industry.”

Get started
The Farm-Level Crisis Plan is available through a downloadable version or as a desktop version from the Checkoff Service Center. For more information, call (800) 456-7675.

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