To build awareness that emergency preparedness is important remains an elusive objective to achieve –even though most recently our news channels have reported on an earthquake centered in Virginia which shook the mid-Atlantic region, and, the fact that Hurricane Irene caused severe flooding and widespread power outages up and down the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S.

In a recent and related news article, David Filson, a Penn State Extension state program leader for emergency readiness and rural health safety, stated, “….if anything positive came out of the Virginia earthquake and Hurricane Irene, it’s that those events provided a ‘teachable moment’ that we hope can raise awareness about the need for readiness.”

Filson went on to also point out,”…. that agricultural producers in the US need to take stock of their homes and farm operations and prepare for the kinds of scenarios that many folks currently are dealing with in the eastern U.S.”

In addition to all of the other dangers and threats of disaster that we all too often read about, farm operations face feed contamination and animal disease outbreaks which come without warning as well.

Fortunately, an educational tool to help farmers and ranchers prepare for such contingencies is now available and is called “ReadyAG – Disaster and Defense Preparedness for Production Agriculture.”  This tool can help AG producers prepare to prevent, mitigate, respond to and recover from a large variety of types of damaging incidents.

ReadyAG begins with a general preparedness assessment, followed by commodity-specific sections including cattle, crops, dairy, fruit and vegetable, swine and poultry. The assessments can be completed online and will automatically populate a customized action plan to address items identified as vulnerabilities for which mitigation is a high priority.

The ReadyAG project was funded by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Special Needs grant. Extension faculty and staff from Penn State, Cornell University, Oklahoma State University, Rutgers University, University of Vermont, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and University of Maryland have all contributed to the development of the ReadyAG assessment tool.

Farmers who access the ReadyAG workbook will be encouraged to take the following steps:

— Identify vulnerable areas of production and management
— Prioritize areas to strengthen
— Create an action plan specific for an operation
— Develop an accurate inventory of assets
— Identify and engage local critical services
— Find additional helpful resources

To learn more and to access the ReadyAG workbook, click here.

If applicable, and if you found this information to be helpful, please pass it on to those AG Producers who are serious about risk management and business continuity down on the farm…..

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