Think about what or who might be impacted, says David Doerfert, professor with the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications at Texas Tech University. A crisis will typically impact more than one thing; consider the impact a crisis could have on humans, animals, crops or the environment.
For example, if you lost your barn, where would your animals go? In an instance like this, it may be helpful to think about your herd biosecurity practices. Are your vaccination protocols sound enough to co-mingle with another herd? asks Smith.
If you had to dispose of milk or animal carcasses, what would you do? Several potential events could result in the need to dump large quantities of milk or bury a large number of carcasses. Is there a location on the farm that you could use? What would you do if the ground was frozen?
After you’ve thought about the after-effects, consider steps that could be taken ahead of time to minimize the impact of your crisis.
Take catalysts into account
Next, identify potential catalysts. What are the trigger points that would cause a potential crisis to grow into an even bigger problem?
Some of the catalysts might be unintentional; for example, flood equipment doesn’t work or a generator fails, says Doerfert. Other catalysts could be intentional; for example, an angry employee.
Once potential catalysts are identified, create a system to monitor them. For example, if a generator failure is identified as a potential catalyst, develop a plan as to how often and who is going to check it to ensure that it is in working order and ready should a crisis ever occur.
Check your insurance
After you’ve identified potential crises, meet with your insurance provider to review current coverage.
Coverage should be reviewed every year. And, don’t take a verbal confirmation from your insurance agent that you are covered. “From year to year, things might get dropped from your insurance if you’re not on top of it. Mistakes get made,” says Marti. “Just because your insurance agent says you don’t need the insurance, do not believe it.” The value of animals needs to be updated on a yearly basis, as well.
Not studying your insurance policy on a regular basis can cost you.
Remember, the media never sleeps
Think about who you would appoint as a spokesperson for your farm if a crisis were to occur.
In a crisis situation, be ready to talk. “With today’s 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week news cycle and social media, there is no hiding and the news media will likely be at your doorstep,” says Doerfert.