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Pork producers should be prepared

By Jennifer Carrico

Preparing a farm for crisis is not something livestock producers like to think about, but in reality, it is something they need to do.

“We have so many threats and risks in front of us as agricultural producers that it is important to be ready for any of them,” said Tom Conley, president and chief executive officer of The Conley Group, Inc.

The Des Moines, Iowa-based company’s primary mission is to function as an emergency rescue organization with the primary objective of saving of life and the prevention of injury during an incident or dangerous situation. Conley spoke about protecting, preparing and preventing disasters on pork operations, at the World Pork Expo held in Des Moines in early June.

“We deal with many natural disasters such as tornadoes and flooding, which can cause a lot of damage, but pork producers also need to be prepared for other kinds of disasters, such as agriterrorism, theft and other crisis,” he said.

Cindy Cunningham, assistant vice president of communications for the National Pork Board, said having a farm crisis plan is a good policy.

“It’s important to have a plan in place for many different situations. One that will help take care of the farm’s people and pigs,” she said.

Conley agrees, “The No. 1 problem is that people over accept and under mitigate risk. It’s good to be prepared for any kind of problem.”

Both said getting others involved in the farm’s crisis plan is important. Letting firefighters and law enforcement know about where things are located on your farm and how to deal with them is important.

Different organizations will help pork producers come up with a good risk protection plan, as they have set a preparedness outline up for the industry, including a national crisis plan, a state association crisis plan, a farm-level crisis plan and a show pig crisis plan.

“All these crisis plans are built on the same framework in order to assist producers and exhibitors with what to do under many different conditions,” Cunningham said.

A farm-level crisis plan can be made specifically for each farm to help each producer recognize and respond to situations that could potentially negatively impact the operation.

The National Pork Board has a tool to help set up these plans. The electronic planning tool outlines the steps to crisis response and how to assess the intensity level of the crisis.

These steps are: assembling, preparing and activating your crisis team; assessing your areas of vulnerability; determining your most important communication audiences; capturing the information needed to make timely, accurate decisions; and taking steps to control the situation using hour-by-hour checklists.

“We hope that pork producers don’t have to use these plans, but we also know it is more important to be prepared in case it is needed,” Cunningham said.

For more information about crisis planning, visit

Jennifer Carrico can be reached by phone at 515-833-2120, or by email at

Date: 7/1/2013


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