Thinking of ‘what ifs’ in argriculture

On the Farm

How many times have you heard a conversation or saw something on the news or social media, and you thought to yourself “that won’t happen to me” or “man, what if that happened to me?”

I hear it all the time, and quite honestly I spend a lot of time as a mom thinking about the “what ifs.” In agriculture, we need to prepare for the “when it happens,” not the “if it happens.” This pertains to everything we do every day.

Recently an undercover investigator for an “animal rights” group released video of footage taken on a dairy farm. He captured a few employees being abusive to animals, and the most infuriating part is that he stood there and did nothing, for months. It’s a pretty hard video to watch, but what is even harder, is seeing and hearing people talk about the family, the farm and the industry as a whole. This dairy farm is a business. They hired emp-loyees to do a job. They pay them to take care of the animals and to take pride in the job that they are given. Just like farmers do. Those animals can make or break a farmer, and so do employees.

This “animal rights” (and I use animal rights lightly, because folks, anyone who truly cares for an animal’s well being would not stand and watch or film abuse, especially not for months) group had an agenda and will not let anything stand in their way. Please understand that I’m not condoning the actions of these employees because their actions were deplorable. The farm handled the situation well, accepting responsibility, terminating the employees, offering more training, etc., and they did it before the video was released, thanks to an employee who saw one of the incidents and told the owners.

This can happen to any of us. Are you prepared? Do you have steps in place as an employer to monitor your employees? Do you have several practices in place to reduce runoff on your farm? Do you have emergency plans in place when something happens? If you answered no, I encourage you to talk about it and sit down and write out a plan, talk about it with your business partner / spouse / etc., or even attend a session (we have a great conference coming up on Saturday to help with some of this). We know this is not a perfect world, and most of us try to do things right, but life happens. Being prepared when life happens can be the difference between losing your livelihood and continuing to live your dream.

Orahood is an Ohio Farm Bureau organization director serving Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull Counties. She can be reached at aora hood@