Every farm needs a short-term operating plan

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Emergencies happen. Is your farm ready to operate without you for a few weeks or months? Do you have a plan in place to let others know how to run your day-to-day operation?

There can be a variety of reasons why the primary decision maker on the farm is unable to make decisions, ranging from health issues to military deployment. The purpose of a plan is to have information organized so that family members can use it to continue operating the farm.

A team of business specialists from the University of Missouri Extension has developed a tool for planning short-term operations. Short term is defined as “a few weeks to six months”. The plan is free for any farmer, regardless of location.

Agricultural planning tool

the Short term operating plan for farms and ranches was designed for most types of farms and ranches. It is divided into seven parts, which include spaces for horticulture and wood or timber producers.

Here is a brief explanation of what you can find in the remaining four sections that deal primarily with row crops and animal production:

General informations. This includes financial information such as bank accounts and loans, as well as agricultural advisers such as lawyers, extension specialists and insurance contacts. It also includes rental contracts with the owner’s name and contact details. It also has space to list payroll for individual employees.

Breeding Information. Here you provide animal inventory including head count and location. There is a place to explain feeding practices, whether detailed feed rations or grazing practices. There is also space to enter contact details for feed suppliers, as well as the farm veterinarian.

Crop information. In this section, row crop fields are identified. There is also a place to record fertilizer and pesticide applications. You can also provide contact information, if custom applicators need to be called in to fill. There is a place to provide a name and number for Seed Dealers, Crop Consultants or Crop Insurance Advisors. MU Extension recommends printing the Farm Service Agency maps if people keep a hard copy, or downloading the maps to a file for easy access.

Equipment information. This section provides a brief list of inventory and, more importantly, the location of equipment. This section also allows payment schedules for machines, as well as a list of warranties. You can also add contact details for favorite mechanics.

Farm families using the plan need only complete the documents necessary for the operation.

Online help

This Short Term Operating Plan for Farms and Ranches is available online for download as a fillable PDF file or it can be printed. It is accessible via computer, tablet or phone.

Be sure to print a hard copy of the plan. or save it to your desktop for quick reference. Either way, let family members know where you store the short-term farm plan in case of an emergency.

MU Extension also worked with the University of Minnesota to create the website, agplan.umn.edu. The website allows users to include more information and more customizations, including attachments such as farm maps.

AgPlan contains tips and examples to guide users. It’s free to use with an email and password. The bonus is that you can choose to share the plan with others by adding email addresses.

Funding for this project was provided by the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The University of Missouri Extension contributed to this article.

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