You may live in a rural area but that doesn’t mean your business is immune from tampering. Whether it’s a disgruntled employee or neighbor, an activist or someone who’s up to more big-picture mischief, you need to be prepared in order to protect your business, community and industry.

Of course that starts with a plan, and even if you have one already on the books, you need to review and refresh it periodically. Here’s a checklist to help you evaluate your business’ preparedness level. It comes to you from the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service’s Center for Agrosecurity and Emergency Management.

So, grab a pen, check each item that applies to your business, and see how your plan measures up.

___ 1) Do you have insurance coverage that protects against theft, vandalism, pesticide spills and/or terrorist attacks on your farm? Ask your insurance agent to walk your facilities to assess your risks and review your coverage.

___ 2) Is your 911 emergency address posted in 3-inch reflective numerals on your mailbox or a post on the country road?

___ 3) Do you have a permanently installed, well-hidden mailbox or lockbox that serves as an emergency information box for emergency personnel? Do they know where this is located?

___ 4) Are pesticides and farm chemicals stored in one location? Is that location secured? Do you maintain an accurate, updated inventory of those on hand?

___ 5) Have you approached your local fire department about visiting your operation for a safety and security check?

___ 6) Have you asked a professional law-enforcement officer to help identify security issues around your business and residence?

___ 7) Do you have a farm-site map with the contents of each building listed?

___ 8) Have you identified vulnerable areas on the farm-site map? Ask yourself: What would someone want to steal, damage or contaminate? Focus on finding solutions for those areas.

___ 9) Do you have appropriate areas locked and/or gated? Are the locks, fences and gates in good condition? Do you regularly check these areas for signs of tampering? Is the supply of keys to these areas tracked and controlled?

___ 10) Do you have a sufficient amount and type of lighting? Is it located in the right places?

___ 11) Do you have a prioritized list of contact names and numbers in case you are away from the farm or incapacitated during an emergency? Do your family and the appropriate employees have a copy of the list?

___ 12) Do your family members and employees know what to look for and what to report to the authorities related to a farm security issue or in the event a response is needed?

___ 13) Have you taken appropriate biosecurity measures to protect animals, feedstuffs and crops? Do you have an inventory of your animals? Can you identify them?

___ 14) Do you always lock/secure your vehicles and equipment, such as sprayers, while they are located within the farm or off site?

___ 15) Are your farm records complete, up-to-date and secure? Are your computers properly maintained and secured? Do you have the current computer virus updates, and do you run them weekly?

___ 16) Do you have a well-stocked first-aid kit, and does everyone within the business know how to use it? When was the last time you conducted a first-aid class? What about CPR? (It should be reviewed annually and with each new employee.)

___ 17) Do you have fire extinguishers? Are they regularly maintained?

___ 18) Do you have alarms, electronic security or video surveillance cameras, as appropriate?

___ 19) Do you hire employees with security in mind? Do you do background checks?

___ 20) Do you have a detailed, broad-reaching farm security plan? (You should have one for each business site.)

For more information and a do-it-yourself, fill-in-the-blank farm security workbook that can help you write a farm security plan, call the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service at (301) 753-8195. You may also contact your state’s department of agriculture or Extension service, as many now have similar tools to help you develop an emergency and security plan.