Last winter saw record low temperatures across the Midwest. In Embarrass, Minnesota, the temperature sank to -45°F while the rest of the Midwest experienced temperatures more than 25°F lower than the usual average. While there are obvious dangers to cold temperatures, particularly exposure, there are several implications for agribusinesses.
How Cold Weather Affect Fields and Livestock
Winter wheat is at increased risk when temperatures plummet below normal. Limited snowfall can compound the problem since the snow insulates crops against the frigid temperatures. The news is not all bad, however. A deep freeze can penetrate the soil well below the usual depths. This helps the soil retain more of the nitrogen farmers apply in the fall. When the soil begins to thaw, it may be softer as well. Lastly, extreme cold can eradicate more insects, reducing their effect on crops the following spring.
Livestock can also take a hit so farmers need to take care to ensure water remains thawed and feed is available. During cold months, animals eat more than usual to account for the calories burned trying to keep themselves warm. Farmers will need to consider this when purchasing feed. Livestock will also need shelter against freezing winds and winter storms. Cattle and sheep are content to live outdoors all year round, but they still require refuge from extreme winter weather. Farmers need to ensure any animal shelter can withstand the weight of snow and ice.
Taking Care of Farmers
Many farmers focus their attention on their fields or their livestock and forget to ensure their own comfort during the winter months as well. Farmers need several pieces of attire to ensure they can function comfortably while tending to their farm in freezing temperatures. Some winter gear farmers should consider keeping on hand includes:
- Hand and feet warmers
- Warm boots
- Boot dryer
- Wool socks
- Insulated overalls
- Winter coat
While many of these things may seem obvious, many farmers overlook the simple things while tending to their agribusiness. Keeping warm and dry is vital to properly tending to fields and livestock. Being cold or uncomfortable can cause farmers to rush and miss signs of problems in their operation. Farming has its risk, but this doesn’t mean farmers should take unnecessary ones. To learn more about managing farming risk, contact the experts at Cline Wood.
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.agribusiness risk, cold weather farming, farming risk, winter agribusiness, winter farming blog