Assessing Disaster Risk
Managing Climatic Risk
It’s absolutely essential that you keep in check with the climate risks that you are exposed to on-farm. This includes assessing any new risks to the farm business. These new risks could be caused by a variety of factors such as climate change, river erosion or perhaps even the adoption of a new cropping system.
This lesson provides an array of different resources that will allow you to determine the potential future impacts of climate on your business.
Develop a Plan
Develop a Written Plan
When your planning for a natural disaster it’s important to have a physical plan. This allows you to effectively structure your thoughts into a format that anyone on the property can understand. This allows the disaster plan to be carried out for the business even when you aren’t on site.
Have a Farm Map on Hand
Most farmers will already have a farm map on hand, although its important to identify key features on that map that are important during times of disaster. This may include safe alternative routes around flood zones and power line locations. These features on a farm map allow ensures that the recovery process is carried out safely and efficiently.
Business Continuity Plan
An effective business continuity plan is incredibly handy when it comes to returning to business as usual in the shortest time frame possible. This plan will allow you to outline business priorities during times of natural disaster best preparing the business for swift disaster recovery.
Business Planning & Risk Mitigation
Within your business & financial plans its important to keep a beat on your current debt levels & to ensure that potential crop losses are accounted for in the planning process. Debt management and having some money tucked away for an incredibly rainy day can be difficult to achieve when running a business in Horticulture. In some cases, it may be worth looking for those higher margins to help fund those worse case scenarios.
Business diversification is a key element to building long term business resilience during times of natural disaster. This may include supply chain arrangements where there are a number of growers working together to meet the demands of a market.
Farm Business Advisors
During times of natural disaster financial counselling services are usually on offer. Even if you don’t feel like you need financial advice it can often be good to make use of these services to help structure your business recovery process. By talking through your planning process you will often find it gives the process more clarity and you may find additional opportunities to speed up your recovery process.
The benefits of Being Proactive
The incentives for adopting a proactive approach to disaster recovery is on the rise due to Queensland’s increasingly variable climate. Climatic projections are indicating that extreme weather events could increase in frequency and intensity as we move into the future.
A Framework For Disaster Recovery
The disaster framework is essentially broken down into the four main sections of Prevent – Prepare – Respond – Recover. We will begin to explore this framework in-depth as we move through the final lessons of the course.
The Prevent step is about thinking through the potential climatic impacts for your farm business. Once these risks have been identified it’s important to think of strategies to either eliminate or minimise the negative impacts on your farm business.
The Prepare step is effectively putting in place the plans and procedures for when a natural disaster occurs. The Disaster Tool Kit & the Recovery Plan are fantastic resources for this step in the process. They can be found in the right-hand column.
The respond step in the process is all about taking action. This is where you put your well thought out plans into action. An effective response will minimise the impact of the disaster on the business while ensuring the safety of your crops, livestock and family.
The Recover step is not only about bringing your farm back to business, as usual, its also about looking after your own health during the process and reassessing the effectiveness of your natural disaster strategy. It’s at this point in the process that you identify potential things that could have been done differently and adjust your recovery plan accordingly.
The Prevent step is all about mitigating and eliminating risk for your farm business where possible. This may include ensuring that you accurately assess your current climatic risk and how you can make changes to your business to mitigate this risk.
Accurately Determining Climatic Risk
Earlier on in this series, we covered various strategies on how to accurately determine your climatic risk. This is where we put those learnings into action. Using the tools provided to you in the Assessing Disaster Risk module analyse the potential risk areas for your business and incorporate them into your disaster management plan.
Risk Mitigation Planning
It’s essential that when you are thinking about risk mitigation strategies that you think of the farm business as a whole. This includes considering not only the infrastructure but the business elements as well. A lot of growers have kept natural disasters in mind when designing the layouts of their properties. With this in mind, it’s important that you use each natural disaster as an opportunity to redesign your business to ensure that you have a strengthened resilience during future disasters.
Time Is Of The Essence
The Respond step in the process is all about ensuring that you make the most out of your window of opportunity to recover. Whether it is an encroaching rainfall event or a sowing window it’s essential that your business has the capacity to recover as quickly as possible.
Putting People First
If you have a little bit of time prior to a disaster event occurring its important to sit down with your team and review your farm emergency procedures. This often includes deciding on a time to evacuate and designating an evacuation point out of harm’s way.
Farm Action Plan
When disaster strikes its important to have a checklist of things to do on-farm prior to the looming disaster. This may include shutting off the electricity, moving livestock or even making sure that you have fuel in your vehicle. Its quite often those little things that slip your mind that result in much bigger problems down the track. The Disaster Toolkit in the column on your right provides a fantastic checklist for disaster preparation.
This is where the old cupboard full of receipts simply won’t cut it. During times of disaster is important that all records are backed up to the cloud or safely stored on a hard drive just in case. One thing that is often missed is ensuring that your phones are fully charged and that you have a power bank on hand in the event of a blackout.
Natural disasters can be devastating for farming families and the surrounding communities. Industry Recovery Officers have observed that the process of disaster recovery is a bit like running a marathon. During the earlier stages of the recovery, process growers are in panic mode so they start out sprinting. At the time this may seem like the best option although growers risk burning out before reaching the finish line.
Into Disaster Recovery Mode
The process of effective disaster recovery often takes quite a bit of time, patience and careful planning. With this in mind don’t be afraid to reach out to external parties to help you plan the most effective disaster recovery approach for your business. Local Industry Recovery Officers and Rural Financial Counsellors have a lot of experience in this area and are always happy to help.
Horticultural Disaster Toolkits: Explore Growcom’s range of horticultural disaster toolkits.
Long-Range Climate Projections: Bureau of Meteorology’s views on long-range climate and weather predictions.
Climate Change in Australia: A government-supported website detailing climate projections, impacts and historical data.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: An international view on the impacts of climate change.
Withstand cyclone winds: An in-depth dive into withstanding cyclone winds in horticulture.
Climate Risk Assessment Template: Explore a framework designed for coastal climates.
Climate Comparison Tool: Compare and contrast climates across a variety of different areas.
Bowen Climate Risk Assessment: Discover the level of climate risk for the Bowen area.
Emergency Management Plan: How to establish an emergency management plan.
Natural Disaster Information Sheets: Incredibly handy factsheets on natural disasters.