; Addressing Risks related to Farm Operational Continuity | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Addressing Risks related to Farm Operational Continuity

Cindy Fake


Many farms and ranches, especially small-scale operations, are sole proprietorships. Often, the farm/ranch operator is the sole keeper of critical information on running the operation, which significantly increases human and financial risks.

As our producer population ages, farm and ranch succession planning has become a key training focus across the country. However, such planning typically focuses on the human and financial dimensions of overall business transition. What is missing is practical information about keeping the farm/ranch operating: how to turn on the irrigation system; when and how to fertilize; where the animals are, and what the pasture rotation cycle is; or even computer passwords to access farm records.

Unexpected events, including natural disasters, injury, illness, and operator death, can severely impact the long-term viability of agricultural enterprises and properties. Too often, these events leave survivors without a plan, an operations manual, or knowledge of running the day-to-day operation. Our experience working with farmers in the foothills of Northern California demonstrates a critical need for operational continuity and emergency planning.

This presentation will focus on what we have learned, how to address the issues involved, and tools to help farmers plan for the unexpected and allow their operations to continue. Recent research suggests that farmer-to-farmer learning is critical to helping producers adopt new management strategies and technologies (Shaw et al. 2011; Garbach et al. 2012). Our experience shows that sharing information and strategies among producers is very effective at catalyzing other producers to create operational and emergency plans.