Managing a farm during COVID-19

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has brought the need for business health, safety and continuity planning to the forefront.  A farm business continuity plan will help pinpoint contingencies in critical areas related to employees/staff and could include backup plans for work practices, transportation, communication, service and supply chain, and cash flow.

Farms could involve employees, suppliers, and customers where appropriate, in developing these plans.  This is also a good time to review important community contact information including your county Emergency contacts and Public Health Department.

Find resources about:


Paycheck Protection Program   Farmer eligibility and sign up begins April 3, 2020 for this program provides forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis.

State of Dairy Markets In this April 1, 2020 article, Mark Stephenson, Director of Dairy Policy Analysis at UW-Madison discusses the current state of dairy markets, dumping of milk, how bad will it get, is there relief? and What can we do?

Six Possible Impacts of COVID 19 on Farms   University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension – specific considerations that farmers, farming families, ag employers, and employees need to be aware of and plan for (March 16, 2020)

Social distancing protocol on farms

Social Distancing for Farmers  Three action items on how farmers can incorporate social distancing into their farm operations.

I am having seed, feed, chemicals and other products delivered – what precautions should I take? Tips to minimize risk when have items delivered to the farm.

Managing visitors and deliveries to farms  Farms are the origin of the food industry. The health of farmers is instrumental at the start of a safe and secure food system. For this reason, farmers and those providing service to farms are identified as essential for Americans. UW-Madison Extension experts advise farms to consider all avenues of potential virus spread and develop protocols to reduce risk of disease.

Best management practices for providing a safe shopping environment at farmers markets. Farmers markets, like grocery stores, are considered an essential food resource. Each farmers market must decide if it can provide a shopping environment at least of equal safety to local grocery stores.

Planning to ensure farm continuation

Creating a Dairy Farm Operating Plan  A clear and easily available operating plan identifies people who are familiar with the farm to take over operations if you are unable to farm for a while and provides clarity on what needs to be done – template included.

Maintaining a safe workplace

COVID-19 Guidance for Farm Employers   Farms have unique challenges with the rapidly spreading COVID-19. UW-Madison Extension experts provide tips for farm employers about communicating COVID-19 protocol to employees. (In Spanish)

What farm jobs/chores can I safely give kids who are home from school? Guidance for safe and age-appropriate jobs for your kids.

Get Your Workplace Ready for Pandemic Flu A workbook (set of factsheets), on workplace preparedness for flu pandemic by the Center for Disease Control

Preparedness, Response, Recovery Plan A series of action steps that an organization should take for a potential epidemic.

Learn the facts about COVID-19

What exactly is COVID? Information and guidance from public health partners about COVID-19

As a farmer what are my risks of contracting COVID-19? Information about how the virus is transmitted and what farmers can do to minimize their risk.

Does working with dairy or beef cattle provide a natural resistance or immunity to COVID-19?  Information that clarifies why working with dairy or beef cattle does not provide immunity from COVID-19.

American Veterinary Medical Association   Information on COVID-19 and the impact on veterinary medicine and other supply chain effects.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), and local health departments have compiled information for the general public to learn more about COVID-19.

As an individual, there are things you can do to help prevent the spread of illness.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze.
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