All Hazards Emergency Preparedness

Fires.  Natural disasters.  Building collapses.  Criminal activity.  Medical emergencies.  Overturned trailer on the highway.  Farm accidents.

What would you do?  What would your employees do?  How would your business carry on if you were injured or killed?

We know it is difficult to think about this.  But living in denial only puts you, your family, your employees and/or your animals and business in a VULNERABLE position.

Fires can cause loss of life, loss of equipment and can disrupts continuity in business operations.  Plan ahead for unfortunate situations.

Overturned livestock trailers can cause loss of human and animal life.  It can cause chaos on highways.  Is there a written “who to contact” in all your transport vehicles in case the driver is also injured or killed? (Photo: Cameron, MO Police Dept.)


The PA Agricultural Ombudsman Program helped create “Farm Emergency Response Guidelines” which are designed to provide farm owners and producers a tool for conducting a self-evaluation of possible vulnerabilities on your farm and in your fields.  It also provides a comprehensive checklist to help create an “all-hazards” emergency response plan to prevent significant loss of life and property.

Possible vulnerabilities on farms:

  • Chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, acid wash
  • Anhydrous ammonia
  • Fuel tanks, compressed gasses
  • Livestock (high numbers and relatively unsecured housing/pasture areas)
  • Lack of trace back and trace forward records
  • liquid manure storage facilities
  • water bodies
  • easy access to buildings, fields (crops) and livestock
  • fences/gates  that are easy to open or destroy
  • often highly visible/accessible from the road
  • confined spaces and other areas of oxygen deficiency (you are not able to see oxygen deficiency)

Ease of access to buildings makes farms more vulnerable for biosecurity reasons. It is also vulnerable is someone chooses to sabotage a farm.


Relatively easy access to many animals makes a farm vulnerable.

storage1 storage2

The accessibility and visibility of farms from roads allows people with malicious intent to plan their attack. 

Storage of explosive materials close to animals and humans can cause hazards.

Storage of explosive materials close to animals and humans can cause hazards.


Confined spaces.  Potential to be crushed by grain stored inside.  Lack of oxygen is a concern.


Road side stands are popular, and connect consumers with producers. But they do present a risk for intentional or accidental contamination of the “farm to fork” continuum. (Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS)

The “farm to fork” continuum has many areas of vulnerability too.  Intentional or accidental contamination at any level of the continuum can severely damage the business of agriculture.

  • On farm production
  • Selection and sorting
  • Transportation
  • Wholesale
  • Value added products
  • Retail

Other considerations to be aware of:

  • disgruntled current or former employees
  • people looking to make a social statement or force policy changes

Vulnerability assessment factors

  • Accessibility (easy to get on farm)
  • Recuperability (time to recover productivity)
  • Vulnerability (easy to compromise production)
  • Effect (% of national product affected by incident)
  • Recognizability (easy to recognize as a particular type of farm)
  • Shock (mental, psychological  effects)


Once an emergency plan is written, we highly recommend having multiple copies….

  • One in the main barn.
  • One in the farm office.
  • One in the house.
  • One in a weather-proof container outside and away from all buildings.  Be sure emergency responders know its location.
  • One on file with your local emergency responders.

A written plan is only the first step.  Reviewing the plan with family and employees is vital.  Practicing or drilling for disaster or emergency response is necessary.

For assistance with emergency preparedness, contact your local Penn State Extension office, your local fire company or Shelly or Beth.

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