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Spending time to gather business and personal records into one place and document processes can help with the operation’s continuity in case the owner, manager or an employee is suddenly unable to work. | Download this photo.

Business contingency plans can help in event of illness or other absence

K-State specialists outline tools available for farm and other businesses

May 5, 2020

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Suppose a small business owner – grocer, farmer or other – gets sick or is called out of state to help with a family emergency. If a friend offers to step in and help with the day-to-day work, would they have the information they need to keep the business going?

A team of K-State Research and Extension specialists has identified resources that can help make gathering that information easier.

“As we got together during this COVID-19 crisis, we got to thinking about what our farm businesses, rural businesses and families need right now,” said Robin Reid, extension associate in agricultural economics. She explained the team she’s part of typically works in succession planning, but realized that there’s also a need for contingency planning in businesses across the state.

“Really, having a good contingency plan in place is vital at any time, no matter the circumstances. We’re just in a different time right now with this pandemic,” Reid said. “It’s a good time to think about, ‘if I did get sick, or one of my employees got sick, how would we continue our operation?’ That’s what contingency planning is all about, making sure the business can continue.”

Listen to a podcast on business contingency planning, as heard on Agriculture Today with Eric Atkinson

Farm continuity

For farm continuity planning, Reid recommends a tool developed by a Purdue University team, called Code Red, an Excel spreadsheet that’s free to download. It offers a structure for gathering critical personal and farm business information.

In the event of a crisis, Reid said a family member or someone else in the position of carrying on the business would have much of what they need, information-wise, in one place, including a non-farm personal inventory, farm assets, personal and business contacts, and employee information.

For more specific day-to-day information, Alysa Rippe-May, extension agent in the Twin Creeks District, developed a farm chore inventory worksheet, including what livestock a farmer might have, where they’re located and what their daily needs are.

Family records

Another resource for individuals and families is Our Valuable Records, which provides an easy-to-complete form to help gather such information as names and contact information for your accountant or lawyer, said Robin Eubank-Callis, family and consumer science extension agent in Barber County. Plus, there’s space for a list of property you own and accounts, including passwords.

“The great thing is that you can just fill in as little or as much as you want in terms of what’s relevant to your family,” she said.

Business continuity

In her role as an extension community vitality specialist, Nadine Sigle works with communities across northwest Kansas to improve their capacity and increase sustainability. She recommends the Business Continuity Plan available at Ready.gov/business.

In addition, the Small Business Administration recommends business owners write a desktop plan of operation, including a desktop standard operating procedure – the things you’d do on a normal day in your business. That would include where things are located, different actions that would need to be taken, where you bank, and a list of your vendors and creditors.

“Now is a really good time for us to stop and put these records into place,” Sigle said.

An interview on this topic aired recently on the radio program, Agriculture Today, and is available at https://bit.ly/3famHgD. These resources and more also are available at K-State Research and Extension COVID-19.

At a glance

Having a financial contingency plan for a business, be it a farm or retail business, can help smooth day-to-day operations in case of a sudden owner or manager absence.


K-State Research and Extension COVID-19 Resources

Notable quote

“It’s a good time to think about, ‘if I did get sick, or one of my employees got sick, how would we continue our operation?’ That’s what contingency planning is all about, making sure the business can continue.”

-- Robin Reid, extension associate, K-State Department of Agricultural Economics


Robin Reid

Robin Callas-Eubank

Nadine Sigle

Written by

Mary Lou Peter

For more information: 

Purdue University Code Red Farm Business

Farm Chore Inventory

Our Valuable Records

Ready.gov Business Continuity Plan


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K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the wellbeing of Kansans.
Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county extension offices, experiment fields, area extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan.