March 23, 2020

COVID-19: This Too Shall Pass

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

As I write this, my 2-year-old is taking a nap. She’s home with me, instead of attending daycare, at least until early April. I’ve worked from home full-time for more than seven years but working with a 2-year-old assistant under foot is quite the challenge.

Everywhere I turn it feels like the world is spinning out of control because of five letters and two numbers: COVID-19. I’m sure you know the feeling. Across the country entire communities are shutting down to provide social distance. 

In Nevada, our governor has ordered all non-essential businesses close for at least 30 days. Farms and food supply-chain related businesses are obviously considered essential. My husband reminded me it’s always great to feel needed, and never in my lifetime has America’s need for farmers been in the spotlight as much as it is right now. 

Few consumers remember a time in our country’s history where you couldn’t buy exactly what you wanted at the grocery store. But now, as supply chains and logistics companies are being tested, consumers are experiencing and understanding the importance of a safe and abundant food supply. 

Control the Controllables

I learned early in our marriage, which began the same year we started our dairy, there are few things I can control beyond the four walls of our home. Weather is unpredictable, farm ownership means there’s no such thing as a firm plan and even the most reliable employees put a kink in staffing from time to time. 

This is by all measure a time of national crisis. The stock market is making record lows with commodity markets, including milk not far behind, but it doesn’t have to be a time of chaos on your farm. 

You can’t control what happens on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange or the CME. You don’t get to decide the course of action on Capitol Hill, in the White House or likely even in your local government to combat COVID-19. What you can control is the everyday, ordinary things that can improve profitability on your farm no matter what Class III price is showing on the futures board.    

Here's a checklist for making selective dry cow therapy work for you. There are tips to identify sick calves on here, and here we’ve included advice for spring manure applications. We’ve also outlined how to create a disaster plan here. 

I encourage you to continue with regular scheduled programing on your farm. If you normally have a milker meeting the first Monday of the month, do that. If your safety meetings usually include pizza, make it happen. Do whatever you can to make sure your employees know their jobs are secure and the business is stable. 

And if school is closed for the next several weeks, take advantage of the extra help and consider letting any part-time high school employees work full-time. That’s what we’ve done, and it’s certainly been a silver lining in this situation. All in all, remember this too will pass.