Farmers can't ignore the reality Covid-19 threatens their livelihoods – here's my 10 tips to getting through the crisis

Michael Brady.

Agricultural Consultant and managing director at Brady Group: Agricultural Consultants & Land Agents. The Lodge, Lee Road, Cork.

Tel: 021- 45 45 120     email:

1st Published in Farming Independent 21 April 2020

Some people are born to lead in a crisis, others find the uncertainty affects their ability to cope.

Regardless of which category you fit into there is common-sense advice which helps us all better cope with this extraordinary change in our personal and business lives caused by COVID-19. 

For farmers it’s mostly business as usual, but the constant COVID news-stream infiltrates the mind and raises many doubts and concerns. Here are 10 crisis management tips to help farmers to deal with the current crisis:

  1. Deal with issues under your control

It seems pretty-obvious but the number one tip is to deal with what you can control. There is no point wasting energy on worrying about prices, bank repayments, and potential outcomes of the crisis, the reality is nobody really knows the answer. Food will certainly be required to feed the world, so continue to farm as normal and don’t make any drastic decisions which will affect the future of your business.

  • Plan Plan Plan

Take some time and make a plan to cover any hurdles. If livestock cannot be sold and must be retained on-farm longer, then plan for it by increasing fertiliser, purchasing more feed or renting more land. If the milk processor has difficulty collecting or processing milk at peak then a new feed regime or milking once a day are options to consider.  The advice is what ever the challenge, make a plan for what you can control.

  • It will end

There is peace of mind in knowing that this crisis will end, just like all other crises.

  • Ask for help

If you feel overwhelmed or the virus has visited your family or farm business, please ask for help. Irish people are great to pull together in times of need to help each other. There has been a great ‘pulling on of the green jersey’ for the cause. Identify those who can and are willing to help you, but again don’t be afraid to ask for help.

  • Its only money

Health is wealth, so the first priority must be to keep yourself, your friends and families safe from the virus. Respect the HSE guidelines and act as if you have the virus, to protect others around you.  If profitability does drop, remember its only money and there is always a solution to money issues.

  • We will always have enough food and shelter

Next to health, food is the next priority for survival. Irish people will never run short of food thanks to our farmers who produce enough food to feed nearly 50 million people. Fill the freezer and let others do the panic buying.

  • Don’t procrastinate – make decisions

There are three options for every question; a) decide yes b) decide no or c) procrastinate or sit on the fence. Option c is not good for your mental health. Be brave and make decisions and don’t procrastinate.

  • No time for cute-hoorism

There are always those who see a way around the rules or spot an opportunity for opportunism. This is no time for cute-hoorism, make decisions for the common good as well as your own.

  • Use the lessons to effect change

Winston Churchill famously said “never let a good crisis go to waste”. There will be valuable lessons to be learned for all of us and our businesses from this crisis. Whether it is less travel, eating home grown produce or supporting local businesses, learn from the change and use it to take your take your farm business to the next level when the crisis ends.

  1. Plan the celebration for when it ends

Finally, plan a big celebration for you and your family when this crisis ends. Social distancing, self-isolation and quarantine are challenging practices for human beings, there will be cabin fever, stress and tension but it always helps to have something to look forward to.  

Farmers are robust and resilient characters, they are well experienced at dealing with crises at farm level and in the wider agricultural industry. Farmers now have an opportunity use these crisis-management skills and stand out of the crowd in the fight against COVIS-19. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.