Viewing posts categorised under: Agribusiness

Fertilizer Manufacturers Cannot Neglect Insurance

Posted April 18, 2017 by Administrator

Agribusiness Insurance CoverageManufacturing fertilizer, like many things, used to be a simpler process – create and distribute high quality organic material for enriching soil. Now fertilizer manufacturers must remain aware of a variety of factors to avoid potential lawsuits, from pollution liability and cyber liability to employment practices liability and beyond.

For example, individuals who live near fertilizer plants may complain of the smell and raise concerns about water contamination from runoff. There are numerous ways fertilizer can damage the environment. To avoid financial ruin, manufacturers need to ensure they have ample insurance to protect their business.

An Overlooked Risk Within the Industry

Many agribusiness companies invest in the standard types of insurance coverage such as farm liability protection or equipment coverage. However, the fertilizer manufacturing industry has one lesser-known risk that business owners cannot afford to disregard: the combustible properties of stored fertilizer and related chemicals.

In the spring of 2013, an explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant proved deadly. While investigators determined the fire was set on purpose, the explosive nature of materials found at fertilizer plants is undeniable. The investigation determined that the company in question, West Fertilizer Company, failed to take proper precautions when storing chemicals at their facility. The company became the target of numerous lawsuits as a result.

While the West Fertilizer Company explosion is a worst-case scenario for businesses, it represents why fertilizer manufacturers cannot afford to neglect known threats. Investing in the right types of insurance can reduce your risk. Cline Wood can help you manage your risk to protect your bottom line. To learn more, contact us.

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Helping Feed the World

Posted April 17, 2017 by Erin

To watch the video, click here.

Argo Group has a role in protecting vital industries across the globe, from agriculture to manufacturing and hundreds of others. One reason for Argo’s success in so many sectors has to do with the partnerships it forms, prompted by its emphasis on collaboration with clients.

One such collaboration is helping Cattle Empire, one of the nation’s largest cattle-feeding operations. Argo, in partnership with broker Cline Wood, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC company, covers the herd and property against loss.

Lucas Christensen, chief financial officer for Cattle Empire, grew up on a cattle ranch in Montana. He understands the importance of having an insurance partner dedicated to the concept of sustainability.

Christensen recalls a bumper sticker on the car he drove as a teenager when he fed the animals. It read: “Ranchers: the original environmentalists.”

“I think that’s something I grew up understanding and learning that we live off the land and off the animals, and so it’s in our best interests to take care of those,” Christensen says.

He appreciates the role that Argo plays in keeping his operation running smoothly.

“More so than the monetary recovery of loss, which is important, is the speed in which we are helped,” Christensen says. “If we have a major loss, we need partners with us that will stand by us and be ready to aid us at a moment’s notice.”

Article originally published on, to view the full article click here.

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.



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Understanding Crop Insurance

Posted March 14, 2017 by Administrator

Crop insurance is a vital part of operating a farm. It allows for competition and innovation while offering protection from the unexpected. This way, farmers can stay in business in the event that their crops fail. Many crop insurance policies are customizable, so farmers can shape their policy to address their specific risks. U.S. farmers have two types of crop insurance available to them: Crop Hail Insurance and Multiple Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI).

Crop Hail Insurance

Farmers receive these policies from private insurers rather than the Federal Crop Insurance Program. Farmers can purchase this type of policy at any time during the growing season. Farmers opt to purchase this type of insurance because hail has the exceptional ability to damage substantial sections of planted fields while leaving the remainder untouched. The main purpose of this policy is to safeguard high-yielding crops in hail-prone areas.

Multiple Peril Crop Insurance

Unlike Crop Hail Insurance, farmers must purchase MPCI policies before they begin planting their crops. This type of insurance covers a variety of natural disasters such as:

  • Drought
  • Disease
  • Frost
  • Too much moisture

There are only 18 private companies authorized to write MPCI policies under the Federal Crop Insurance Program. The United States Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency (USDA RMA) regulates the Federal Crop Insurance Program and determines what rates insurers can charge. The RMA also decides which crops these private companies can insure in which parts of the country.

Farmers cannot afford to neglect their insurance coverage. They also need a variety of insurance policies to protect their business. As a leading provider of agribusiness insurance, Cline Wood can help farmers identify risks to their investment as well as provide services tailored to address their specific needs. Contact us to learn more.

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Hidden Risks for Dairy Farmers

Posted February 23, 2017 by Administrator

Many dairy farmers’ top priority is their cows’ projected milk yield. They focus on elements that affect their cows’ health and wellbeing such as preventing common diseases and providing proper housing for the animals. Many are expecting a higher yield of milk by pounds per cow. This is largely due to enhanced nutrient content and digestibility of 2016’s forage crops. However, unexpected challenges threaten this projection.

Harvest Delays and Grain Maturation

The 2016 corn silage and high moisture harvest pose certain risks to dairy farmers. For one, harvesting was delayed. This resulted in the plants and grains maturing past their optimal stages. This contributed to diminished nutrition quality of the harvest, which has a direct effect on dairy cows and their milk output.

Defensive Tactics

There are numerous options available to dairy farmers to combat this issue. Unfortunately, decreased dairy performance is rarely a single-culprit issue. Multiple factors often combine to reduce the animals’ health as well as milk output. Some of these are anti-nutrition factors such as mold, yeast, and toxins.

Other elements are bacteria-based. Sometimes, feed or other toxins found on the farm can overwhelm an already nutritionally deficient cow. Other times, excessive starch in the animals’ diets can create the perfect environment for mold and bacteria to take over in the intestines and hindgut. The best way to avoid this scenario is by dairy farmers, consultants, and trusted veterinarians working together.

Outside factors affecting production is not unique to dairy farmers. Nearly all trades that fall under the agribusiness umbrella will feel the sting of external influences on their bottom line at some point. While these companies can take steps to work together and mitigate these issues, having appropriate insurance is vital. Cline Wood is the paramount provider of agribusiness insurance products. We treat your business as our own and provide customized services to meet your needs. Contact us to learn more.

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Know the Risks Your Agribusiness Faces

Posted February 9, 2017 by Administrator

Agribusinesses face a variety of risks that other businesses do not. Some risks, such as events that affect pricing, are the same for all institutions. Other risks are unique to agriculture-based businesses, such as farming. If you own an agribusiness, you need to familiarize yourself with all of the risks that can affect your company. Below are some of the common risk factors farmers face.

Price Risk

Problems with pricing often occur after a farmer has already committed to production. Production is a lengthy process for agribusinesses. For example, farmers must invest in feed and equipment to produce the best possible livestock. It can take months or even years to see a return on their investment. During this period in time, global and local market pricing can shift and have a dramatic effect on farmers’ bottom line.

Production Risk

Agribusinesses face distinctive production risks compared to other industries. Some examples include harsh weather, droughts, insects, and a variety of other environmental factors. These elements are uncontrollable and sometimes unpredictable, which can hinder production output.

Institutional Risk

Changes to government policies can affect multiple industries. For farmers, the biggest risks come with changes to regulations regarding how they grow their crops and raise their livestock as this can have a significant effect on production costs. Other changes that can affect farmers are rules regarding manure disposal, conservation and land use mandates, or tax law updates.

Agribusinesses cannot afford to ignore these risks. The best way to reduce risk is to invest in the proper types and amount of insurance. To learn more about how insurance can reduce your agribusiness’ risk, contact the experts at Cline Wood.

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Protecting Your Farm with Uniquely Tailored Coverages

Posted January 18, 2017 by Administrator

Maintaining a successful farm is not an easy job. Some may argue it is not a job at all, but a way of life. Unfortunately, farms face a number of threats that jeopardize farmers’ livelihood. In order to ensure a thriving farming environment, farmers need to be aware of the risks and take measures to mitigate them. The best way to do so is by investing in coverages that are uniquely tailored to the risk exposure of your area and the nature of your business.

Types of Insurance All Farmers Need

With the right insurance, farmers can remove the stress of worrying about risk factors and instead focus on the farm itself. There are four types of insurance all farmers should consider.

  • Farm liability protection. This insurance protects individuals from losing their farms because of liability issues. This includes bodily injury, associated medical costs, and damage to other people’s property. It can also provide legal defense if necessary.
  • Dwelling coverage. This is often part of a homeowner’s insurance policy. It provides coverage for damage to the individual’s home in the event of a disaster. Some examples include hail, windstorms, theft, and vandalism.
  • Farm equipment coverage. This type of insurance offers coverage for farming equipment, materials, and machines. This insurance can provide blanket protection up to a certain dollar amount or individuals can itemize high-cost items.
  • Barn insurance. Farmers purchase this type of insurance for barns and other buildings on their property. Some examples include buildings that house livestock, equipment, and so on.

By taking these necessary precautions, farmers can reduce their risk. This will allow farmers to focus more of their attention on operating their farm than worrying about what threatens it. To learn more about how insurance can improve your agribusiness, contact the experts at Cline Wood.

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FDA’s Final Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food

Posted December 23, 2016 by Erin

FDA Issues Final Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food

What You Need to Know

The Rule

On April 6, 2016, the FDA published its Final Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food establishing transportation requirements to ensure the safety of both human and animal food. This rule results from long-time concerns over the need for regulations so that foods are being transported in a safe manner. It reaffirms that transportation plays a critical role in preventing risks to the nation’s food supply.

The final rule is part of the implementation of the 2005 Sanitary Food Transportation Act (SFTA) and the 2011 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). These two statutes require the FDA to issue regulations requiring shippers, carriers by motor vehicles or rail vehicle, receivers, and other persons engaged in the transportation of food to use sanitary transportation practices to ensure that food is not transported under conditions that may render the food adulterated. The rule is one of seven fundamental rules proposed since January 2013 and is the sixth of seven regulations that have been finalized. This is also the only rule of the seven that is directly applicable to transportation.

The rule applies to shippers, loaders and carriers who transport food in the U.S. by motor vehicle or rail (whether or not food is offered or enters interstate commerce), and applies to food not completely enclosed by a container. Four key requirements are addressed: (1) vehicles and transportation equipment, (2) transportation operations, (3) records and (4) training. The new rule applies to the design and maintenance of vehicles and transportation equipment to ensure they do not cause the food being transported to become unsafe. It also requires specific measures be taken during the transport of food to ensure food safety, such as adequate temperatures. The rule requires carriers to train their personnel in sanitary transportation practices and to document the training conducted. Regulated parties must also maintain records of written procedures, agreements and training records (required for carriers).

So how will the rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food affect the transportation industry? First and foremost, the rule is flexible. It allows the industry to continue to use industry “best practices” which is defined as “commercial or professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or most effective.” These practices include successful sanitation procedures, effective training programs, records retention procedures, successful inspection and monitoring programs.

The final rule indicates that businesses (other than small businesses) will have one year from date of publication to comply, so until April 7, 2017. Small businesses have 2 years to comply. “Small businesses” are defined as businesses other than motor carriers that are also not shippers and/or receivers and that employ fewer than 500 persons, and motor carriers having less than $27.5 million in annual receipts.

Before the rule becomes enforced in April 2017, those involved in the food transportation industry should review their vehicle and transportation equipment to determine how the new requirements may affect them. To comply with this new rule, all companies need to develop and implement a written procedure governing all aspects of their shipping operations. The procedure should spell out in detail the sanitation procedures for both loading and unloading and shipping equipment. If the current “best practices” are not suitable, then changes to the procedure must take place. 

Failure to comply with the rule is subject to injunction and criminal prosecution. Further, food will be deemed “adulterated” if it is transported or offered for transport by a shipper, loader, carrier or receiver under conditions that don’t comply with the rule. FDA also intends to conduct some inspections and the Department of Transportation (DOT) will establish procedures for transportation safety inspections to be conducted by DOT or state agencies.

These new requirements may be used by plaintiffs to establish negligence and negligence per se, and may appear in litigation through discovery or FOIA requests. On the other hand, proper compliance with the rule will allow companies to prove safe and proper practices.

For more information on the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food visit:

Article originally published by Roberts Perryman.

Anna Beck is an associate attorney at Roberts Perryman. Anna’s practice focuses on transportation, insurance coverage and defense.

Roberts Perryman has been a leader in transportation defense for over 50 years with offices in St. Louis and Springfield, MO and Belleville, IL.

Follow their blog at: Driven to Keep You Driving


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How the Digital Revolution Impacts Agribusiness

Posted December 13, 2016 by Administrator

tablet farmerTechnological advances are helping farmers increase resiliency, scale and sustainability. Technology is one of the most effective tools in our society for reducing poverty because more than a third of the global population relies on agriculture for a living. New digital applications are now making it easier for farmers to improve their productivity and are helping them scale their businesses at a much faster rate than in the past as it pertains to these three key constraints: 1) resilience, 2) scale, and 3) market incentives.

Traditionally, small farms without a safety net would suffer debilitating setbacks from bad weather, crop disease and low prices. Today, farmers can access mobile apps that help take the guess work out of planting, growing and harvesting crops by providing real-time weather information and agronomic tips. Emergent market insurance players are using mobile technology to bring life and crop insurance that protect small farmers from economic shocks.

Innovative products generate mobile payments and receipts whenever farmers sell to agribusiness using their platform. This provides them with a dashboard that gives them touch point financial history right from their phone. Better tracking and reports make them more attractive to a bank when they apply for credit, insurance and other financial tools that can help them withstand potential setbacks and prevents them from being taken advantage of by buyers. Market prices are easily accessible by phone which helps them make better decisions and maximize their profits by selling at precisely the right time.

In order to be successful, farmers need sizeable, stable markets. Mobile platforms are making it easier for farmers to manage their contracts, make and accept payments, and give them clarity about their business strategy by helping them identify patterns, efficiencies and best practices. Mobile supply chain management now makes working together vastly easier for buyers and small operators.

Digital technology makes this exciting times for agribusiness. Mobile innovations are changing the way dairies tend their cows, access micro-insurance to prevent bad weather risk, or determine the most scientifically optimal time to plant crops.

The demand for food in the global economy is expected to soar 70 percent by 2050. Digital technology may very well be the answer that will help to solve some of the most difficult agricultural challenges of our time. To learn more about protecting and growing your agribusiness, contact us today.

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Food Safety as an Emerging Risk for AgriBusiness in America

Posted November 29, 2016 by Administrator

qtq80-6zlLqVModern food production systems are vulnerable, as evidenced by food safety crises in America. Food borne illnesses strike 48 million Americans every year, many of whom are hospitalized or killed from deadly viruses and bacteria (i.e. salmonella, E. coli, and many more), parasites, allergens, mold, toxins and contaminants. These incidences have caused the public to express concern about the safety of the food they consume and the food supply chain.

Food safety risks can be reduced if food safety hazards are identified early and important information is exchanged properly between all parties involved in maintaining food safety. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) works with a variety of public and private partners to ensure a healthy system of food safety oversight that uses the research-based knowledge to prevent food-related issues that make people sick.

In order to achieve the FDA’s goals for improving the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, the food system must be viewed as a whole. Everyone who participates in the food chain and supply system must be held accountable for preventing hazards and following the rules established. For example, the FDA has specific prevention-oriented standards for seafood, juice and eggs as does the U.S. Department of Agriculture for meat and poultry. All parties involved in the food supply chain need to follow best practices established by food safety pioneers and to recognize that any breakdown in the farm-to-table process can cause great harm to the health of consumers and extensive disruption and economic loss to the food industry as a whole.

Food processors need to evaluate their operations and make plans for reducing – or eliminating – hazards. Monitoring standards that prevent contamination are essential as are implementation of corrective measures when necessary. As food safety rules and standards are improved, the FDA needs to have more effective enforcement tools for ensuring prevention measures are adequately and effectively implemented, which may include mandatory recalls when needed to quickly remove contaminated food from the market.

Science-based research standards need to be taken into account when developing standards for the safe production of fruits and vegetables that will minimize or eliminate the risk of serious illness or death. Safety standards need to be set and followed for the transportation of all types of food.

Food safety is an emerging risk for America, one that can be improved with collaboration between all existing food safety agencies in the country, a focus on prevention, research-based policies, determination of best practices, rules and standards, and accountability for all aspects of the food production and supply chains. If these principles are adhered to, the future of food safety in American will achieve a dramatic and positive change.

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Sustainable Development Goals Critical to Agribusiness

Posted November 10, 2016 by Administrator

shutterstock_3008334The future of sustainable development goals has significant implications for the future of agribusiness and the human condition. There are new opportunities for farmers that view emerging and frontier markets as their source of long-term growth. Consumers in these markets could significantly increase by the year 2025. Taking action on sustainable development goals could help address slower growth obstacles that are giving rise to “trapped value” in the emerging markets.

Public declarations of support for sustainable agribusiness goals are likely to give rise to competitive pressure. Some farmers could get a jumpstart in their profit centers by organizing partnerships and even positioning themselves as leaders in sustainable development that could work in their favor. Being slow to take action could lead to the risk of being left out of these relationships and a source of competitive disadvantage.

A strong sustainable development goal on food security and agriculture is seen as a key to poverty eradication and sustainable development. Agricultural job creation is also a means for poverty eradication. Challenges include key relationships, interdependencies and possible tensions between consumption and production, i.e. where, what and how farmers produce is conditioned by consumers’ food preferences. There is also a challenge for agribusiness in terms of responsibility to communities and to the protection of the natural resources on which they depend. It may even make sense to establish a legally-binding framework for corporate social and environmental responsibility.

There is a need for enhanced support to small-holder agriculture and livestock herding, as well as small-scale fisheries, including farmer-centric, knowledge-based support programs. The need for increased investment in agriculture must be emphasized, including both public and private investment in agricultural research and development, and the rebuilding of state-central roles in agricultural production. There is also a need for the provision of basic services for rural areas.

Other barriers are external, such as weak infrastructure in emerging markets, lack of capacity among target customers and supply chains, and regulatory and policy complexities. Internal challenges include difficulty monitoring, measuring and communicating impact, alternative investment opportunities that take priority, long-time horizons for profitable payback and lack of clear funding mechanisms.

Awareness of the challenges is the first step to managing them. Sustainable development goals offer a powerful mechanism to create coordination for solving complex problems. To learn more about protecting and growing your agribusiness organization, contact us.

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