Written by: Leah Wilkinson | March 6, 2020
While you would not think it from the news and your social media feeds, the risk to the average American from the new coronavirus (COVID-19) is still low. However, if you are near Seattle or have family or friends there, you are well aware that there are pockets in the U.S. where the virus is spreading more rapidly, bringing more attention to ways we can prepare for the virus should it spread further. Now is an opportune time to look at the policies and procedures in place for your animal food business to protect your employees and still be able to provide feed and pet food to your customers.
The White House held a call for business leaders this week where they shared information about the steps that could be taken now that will help businesses prepare for and hopefully achieve continuity of operations in the event of travel restrictions, closures and quarantines. Officials reiterated that public health emergencies, just like natural disasters, are locally coordinated, state managed and federally supported. That means businesses should connect with their local and state contacts in advance of an emergency to understand what the response plans would look like and how their businesses can work within any potential actions.
As it should be, most of the focus in case of an outbreak is protecting the health and safety of the people in the local area. In reality though, livestock and pets will still need to be fed, which means animal food will need to be made and delivered in a timely fashion. How does our industry do that in the face of quarantines, closures and potentially ill employees?
While the risk may be low in your area, now is the time to prepare your business for continued operations in the case of an event. Businesses desire predictability, but emerging diseases are difficult to predict. This time provides an opportunity to work to manage uncertainty and do our part to prepare. Some suggestions include:
Similar to any crisis, the best words of advice are prepare, prepare and prepare. Work with your key managers – I’m sure they have ideas and questions that will help you develop your plan of action. And after it’s all done, don’t forget to regroup and assess what went well, what could be improved and ideas for next time (because there will likely be a next time).