Dairy farmers discuss crisis management planning

A group of Wisconsin farmers is preparing for the unexpected.

Amy Bonamie with the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin says farmers should think about what to do when a crisis happens on the farm.  She tells Brownfield, “It could be personal.  It could be a death in the family.  It could be an equipment accident, a tractor rollover, an environmental challenge.  It really could be anything.”

Kristin Solum of Deer Park Wisconsin and her parents operate a 3,400-acre farm with a herd of 800 milk cows.  She says, “We feel it’s very important that we have a plan in place so all  of our employees, and as owners, we know what to expect when a crisis occurs.”

Jim Kusilek operates a 1,400-cow dairy near Rice Lake, Wisconsin, and says his top reason for improving his crisis plan is employee safety.  “From the standpoint of trying to get to the point where they have a good feel of what to do, when to do it and make sure they understand it’s all about them, making sure that they are safe.”

And, Kusilek says it’s something more insurance companies are asking farmers about.  “I just went through an insurance review this last fall and the insurance carriers are asking you, ‘What is your plan, what do you have going?’ so whether we like it or not, I think it’s going to come to the forefront and rightfully so.”

Host farmer Brad Boon tells Brownfield he’s hoping to get more information about how to handle a crisis if one ever happens.  He says every farmer should probably seek some support during a crisis, and the training helps.  Boon’s goal is to create a plan on paper so it’s ready to use if it’s ever needed.

Trainer Judy Rupnow with Morgan Myers Communications tells Brownfield crisis is defined by something unexpected, and she wants to make sure folks are thinking about all of the decisions they can make now so all they need to do during an incident is pull the plan from the shelf and put it in place.  She says making sure people are trained helps with implementing crisis plans without delay, much like when children are taught to stop, drop, and roll if their clothing catches fire.

The training is the second part of a five-stage PDPW professional development series called Dairy’s Visible Voice hosted by the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin.  A similar session was held Wednesday near Kewaunee, Wisconsin.  Future sessions are coming up dealing with effective leadership, proactive communication with the public, and social media strategies.

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