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With the first 4 positive detection of the virus in the Southwest, it is only a matter of time till we see it transmitted to other regional communities. It is now time to up the anti and really look at what we do to get ahead of some of these issues on the farm. Some of the impacts you may see in the near future are:
1. The farm workforce. Even if the general population infection rate remains relatively low, it is likely that we will see some workers who end up sick. But, perhaps more importantly, even if the infection rate stays low (single digits), it is highly likely that workers will need to be out of work particularly with school closures and/or workers who need to stay home to care for sick or elderly family members. The fear of this event and lack of information may also lead to higher levels of absenteeism.

2.  Worker safety and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). There might be shortages of PPE and other protective equipment vital for operating a farm safely and keeping workers and animals healthy. 

3. Supply chains slowdowns and shortages. As logistics are disrupted and efforts proceed to slow the spread of the virus, multiple connected industry sectors are already being impacted. With some products, “panic buying” is creating additional concern. If the virus were to spread more broadly, we could see issues with farm product delivery and pickup as workers stay home due to illness or because they are caring for family members or school-age children. These same concerns would affect processors. Slowdowns could also impact fertiliser, fuel and other input movement and availability.
To help with both the slowing of the virus and health of our workers and families, strict guidelines for hygiene are the best form of management along with social distancing, washing hands frequently and self-isolating when sick or returning from travel.
The length of time that SARS-COV-2 (the cause of COVID-19) survives on inanimate surfaces will vary depending on factors such as the amount of contaminated body fluid – such as respiratory droplets – present and environmental temperature and humidity.  To help with developing up procedures the Australian Government has put out a guide titled ‘Environmental cleaning and disinfection principles for COVID-19.  
Use of bleach or other disinfectants to disinfect all surfaces that are regularly touched will be especially important during seeding. Spray bottles with disposable cloth, cleaning liquid and hand sanitiser should be on hand in every vehicle and a cleaning procedure on vehicle exit introduced. Also increased emphasis on cleaning of lunch rooms and other common facilities. Remember that you are responsible for the health of everyone in your employment. Set up your procedure to minimise all infectious contact.
Download the guide here and let us know if you need help putting in policy or procedures.