Wallaces Farmer

You can’t postpone planting season

People on farms and in rural areas are guarding themselves and others against the coronavirus.

Rod Swoboda

April 27, 2020

3 Min Read
combine in field
QUARANTINED: Practicing social distancing isn’t new for farmers, as the only time they get out of the cab is to fill the planter with seed. No riders in the buddy seat this year.Rod Swoboda

To stay safe during these difficult times, farmers across Iowa are practicing social distancing and taking other precautions as they plant crops this spring. Coping with the COVID-19 pandemic has been added to the list of low crop and livestock prices, trade wars, adverse weather and the other on-going challenges. 

“We haven’t slowed down,” commented northwest Iowa farmer Brian Kemp, as he answered a phone call while planting. “We are getting this crop in the ground. But we are doing it a little differently, complying with recommended health and safety precautions.” That means no one riding along with him in the cab. Whether on the farm or in town, Kemp is being extra cautious. 

Taking the extra steps to be safe isn’t convenient. The stress level is higher this planting season. Businesses that farmers deal with are taking these steps, too. Farmers need to coordinate a drop-off location for supplier deliveries to the farm and provide specific instructions. Some farmers are creating signage to easily identify drop-off points. With delivery drivers, it’s best to not greet them with a handshake. As with everyone, stay at least 6 feet away. Some farmers are keeping a log of all deliveries and on-farm visitors. Some are monitoring their own travel with a personal travel log.

Related: See complete coronavirus coverage

Taking a trip to the local equipment dealer or feed store isn’t like it used to be. They don’t want you to walk in the front door anymore. You call ahead and preorder the parts or whatever it is you need. Or go to the front door and tell them what you want or hand them a written list. They’ll bring it out to your truck. Also, like everyone else, farmers and their employees are using a lot of hand sanitizer and sanitary wipes to protect against the coronavirus. 

Brian Kemp and wife Cindy miss socializing with their friends. “I only go to town when it’s absolutely necessary,” he explains. “When we do go to town, we don’t have close contact with others. We keep our distance.” Kemp says the entire farming community is very cautious now. “It would be disastrous to us to get ill or quarantined with COVID-19.” 

At the start of the 2020 planting season, farmers were advised to prepare their on-farm employees and workers, including family members, regarding precautions to take. Many have done that, providing guidance for handwashing and hauling materials, and making sure guidelines are available and communicated to employees. Everyone needs to know what to do and when to do it in order to keep your farm working, if you can’t. For more information on how to “Plant safe, plant smart,” visit iowacorn.org/covid19

Financial help available 

In mid-April, USDA announced a financial aid package to help agriculture. Farmers and small businesses who have questions about eligibility and application procedures to participate in this program, or other federal resources, should first contact their lender.  

“Everyone is busy with the planting season, and it takes time to figure out the options and apply for the new aid programs,” notes Iowa Secretary of Ag Mike Naig. “Community bankers and farm lenders are good resources on this. The other resource I’m directing farmers to for guidance and information is ISU Extension. The Center for Ag Law and Taxation at ISU has a special COVID-19 web page with links to helpful resources at calt.iastate.edu/covid-19-resources. The ISU Ag Decision Maker website is another good resource.” 





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