FARM Writes the Book – Literally – on Dairy Farmers and Coronavirus Prevention and Management
March 31, 2020
Collaborating with industry partners and NMPF staff, the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program developed a Coronavirus Prevention and Management Dairy Farmer Handbook for producers released March 19 as the coronavirus crisis took shape. A Spanish-language version followed within a week. Both are posted on the NMPF coronavirus website.
The handbook, developed largely by NMPF Vice President of Sustainability and Scientific Affairs Jamie Jonker, provides an overview of COVID-19, including symptoms, preventive measures, and action steps that employers can take on-farm for their employees. A major goal of the handbook is to help ensure business continuity, with best practices to prevent illness on the farm and manage any dairy-farm disruptions that might result from employee sickness or supply-chain disruptions, Emily Yeiser Stepp, vice president of the FARM Program, said in an NMPF podcast released shortly after the document was published.
Despite the unique challenges that coronavirus presents to a program that’s been based on person-to-person contact, “in agriculture, in our industries, we figure things out,” said Yeiser Stepp in an NMPF podcast March 24. “And that is the beauty of being part of this community, is that we will figure out how to do this in the most effective manner that provides those assurances long-term,” Yeiser Stepp said. “We’re all in this together.”
FARM also has managed the coronavirus threat by adapting its rigorous inspection and evaluation programs by following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations regarding social distancing and immediately adjusting its operations. FARM strongly recommends that program participants (cooperatives and processors) do the same. These adjustments will be reevaluated weekly based on the latest CDC recommendations.
The FARM Program recommends:
- Temporary suspension of all on-farm operations of the program.
- All in-person evaluator or trainer trainings scheduled should be cancelled and rescheduled for a later date.
- Any farm tours for customers/brands or the general public should be cancelled and rescheduled for a later date.
FARM also has developed a short, confidential five-to-ten-minute survey requesting additional information on the impact of COVID-19 on dairy operations to help in better understanding and assisting with farm needs. The survey can be completed by following this link. Any information that can be provided is important and will not be disclosed publicly.