The floods of 2008 are fresh in Iowa pork producers' memories less than a year after rising waters from the Mississippi and its tributaries flooded both crops and pig barns following heavy spring rains. Helping pork producers prepare for this and many other emergencies is the goal of a new emergency action plan tool.
Officially introduced at the 2009 World Pork Expo, the emergency action plan tool guides producers through the planning and documenting of an emergency response plan.
Users are instructed to log in, describe their operations and consider various situations that can put a farm's employees, animals or facilities at risk. Additionally, users are required to think about and describe the resources, including people, equipment and locations, that can be of use if disaster strikes.
Liz Wagstrom, assistant vice president for the National Pork Board said, "In an emergency, things can happen very fast. Having a plan at the ready ensures that important decisions are not overlooked and that all resources are mobilized to achieve an effective solution.
"Having the foresight to prepare a plan and share it with all the people in the operation ensures that everyone knows what the expected outcome is and how to achieve it," Wagstrom said. "The Checkoff tool gives the user the option of printing one or more copies of the finished plan. We foresee pork producers sharing printed version of their plans also with emergency responders, for example, so the rescue team knows what, who and where available resources can be found."
Wayne Peugh, pork producer from Illinois and past president of the National Pork Board, was one of several pork producers that tested a pilot version of the emergency action plan development tool in early 2009. Peugh also has experience with emergencies. "Last year we had a fire at one of our sites," Peugh said. "We got through it, but at the time I would have really appreciated having a document that listed all of the resources we could count on, all of the people we had to contact and all of the things we needed to do. This tool fills that need."
A farm's emergency action plan is one of the documents that are reviewed as part of a PQA Plus on-farm assessment.
"Having an emergency action plan also satisfies a very important requirement of PQA Plus' site assessments," Peugh said. "In several ways, the emergency action plan fits into the pork industry's We Care way of life. Having an action plan is a great way for responsible pork producers to plan for preserving the health and safety of our employees and of our animals," he added.
Peugh's feedback and comments along with those of the other producers who tested the first version of the tool were incorporated into the final version of the tool.