Many stores and restaurants have transformed the way they do business in light of COVID-19 to protect their customers and their employees. Likewise, some dairies have implemented new strategies to keep their workers safe.

Kurt Wulf, with Riverview LLP, shared some adjustments they’ve made on their operations since the pandemic began during a Charleston|Orwig webinar series titled “Food, farms, and the future.” Riverview LLP has dairy and beef farms in five states — Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Arizona, and New Mexico.

“Obviously with COVID, we had to make some changes, but the show must go on,” he said. “We milk cows every day, we breed cows every day, and we feed cows every day.”

Wulf, who is part of the human resources team at Riverview LLP, said that taking care of their employees has always been part of their culture. “Worker safety is one of our top priorities,” he emphasized. “We focus on the things we can control, and we can control cost of production and our safety numbers.”

With 1,300 employees company-wide, strategies were quickly put into place to slow the spread of COVID-19. This included social distancing, a pause on in-person meetings and trainings, more hand sanitizer stations, wet wipes for cleaning surfaces, and temperature checks to start each workday. Wulf said they are proud to report that they have had zero cases of COVID-19 among their employees to date.

Interestingly, these precautions have done more than protect against the current health issue. Wulf said that a few years ago, they started tracking who was getting sick and when at their southwest sites simply to anticipate times when they needed more people ready to cover for sick days. They discovered that in the spring and fall, there tended to be a bump in co-workers who weren’t able to come in because of illness.

This spring, that normal spike in seasonal illness did not take place. Wulf said they attribute that to the precautions they had put into place initially to prevent COVID-19.

Looking forward, they will continue some of their social distancing, remain vigilant about handwashing, and maintain an emphasis on general cleanliness. While they intend to resume in-person meetings and trainings, Wulf said they will be more mindful in preventing the spread of disease from person to person from now on.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2020
June 25, 2020
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