Farm Management Minute: Preparing for the worst

Farm Forum

Discussion in the office of the S.D. Center of Farm/Ranch Management this past week was about the devastation at Delmont, and whether we are ever prepared for such a catastrophe. A tornado destroys whatever is in its path, with some items never being found. Fires can also be almost as destructive, but may leave behind a trace of what was destroyed. This type of disaster makes one ask a couple of questions: Are you prepared? Can you verify what you owned before such a disaster strikes?

I think everyone has made plans for their important papers in case of a disaster, but many of us stop there. Insurance agents have stressed to homeowners for years to photograph, or video, all the items in your home in case of fire or any other disaster. Have farmers and ranchers done the same? Everyone has a list of their equipment, or should have, on their balance sheets, but that list usually contains only the large pieces of equipment. Is there a list of all your tools anywhere? To prepare for disaster, producers should document their tools, welders, and other supplies in the shop. The following documentation information is recommended for household inventories, the same would be useful for shop inventories.

• Description

• Model

• Serial number

• Cost

• Purchase date

• Manufacturer

• Photos and video footage

It may be hard to go back and document all tools and supplies in your shop at this point in time, but it may be doable to at least videotape or photograph what is currently there. This could be a good project for your children to accomplish over the summer months. From this point on, you may want to document all equipment and tool purchases as you bring them on the place. Supplies is a harder thing to track; but if you usually have the same amount of supplies on hand at all times, the video may be able to be used to document it.

It is always best to plan ahead than try to make a plan after disaster. None of us think we will need such a plan, but better safe than sorry. To contact the SDCFRM office or any of our instructors, call 1-800-684-1969 or email us at