Viewing posts categorised under: Agribusiness

Fluid Injection Technology Integrates with Agribusiness

Posted December 20, 2018 by Administrator

Farmers are struggling to keep up with crop demands. While an ever-growing population compounds this issue, water is at the forefront of their list of concerns.Noticeable changes in climate have brought fewer rains, more drought, and a growing crop problem. As operational costs increase, farmers are running out of options to stay in business.

Technology has helped ease this burden somewhat in the past.Advancements in science and new inventions have allowed for farming that is more efficient. Some examples include drought-resistant plants, improved seed products that fight weeds, as well as seed developed to combat pest problems.However, even the hardiest of plants need some water.

To address this problem, a new start-up called Agri-Inject developed a liquid-injection technology. The start-up realizes farmers need environmentally friendly solutions to their water problem. At the heart of their invention is a liquid-injection irrigation system. The company claims it can reduce water and chemical requirements by utilizing sensors to collect data. This data would allow for variable-rate irrigation.

This technology could not come at a better time for farmers who already make use of irrigation systems. These farmers are contending with increasing regulations that limit the amount of water they can pull from wells every year. The technology can monitor soil type, crops, moisture input,sprinkler rate, and more. It can then take all of this data and determine how often and how many water injections the crops and soil need to guarantee full coverage.

As farmers contend with growing water problems,technological solutions have become more important than ever. This water injection technology may well be the solution to one of the biggest challenges facing the agribusiness industry. To learn more ways to protect and advance your agribusiness, contact Cline Wood.

8 Financial Factors Farmers Need to Consider for 2019

Posted November 29, 2018 by Administrator

Farming has always been a risky occupation with slim margins, and 2019 will be no exception. Both livestock and crop farmers are feeling the financial squeeze, dairy farming and row-crop sectors in particular. Thankfully, not every trend is bleak. The following are several developments farmers need to be aware of to maximize their profits.

Positive Factors Affecting Farming Finances

There are several positive trends affecting the farming industry. These include:

  • Unemployment is the lowest it’s been in over five decades, coming in at 3.7%. Many agribusiness employees are also seeing an increase in salary.
  • Experts expect consumer spending to remain stable as farmers continue to produce strong yields.
  • Farmers have new opportunities at growth due to an increased interest in fresh foods, craft beer, and other ventures that call for specialty crops.
  • Farmland value is stable with some small increases. This is significant for farmers who borrowed against their equity.

Negative Factors Affecting Farming Finances

While there are several notable trends to look forward to, farmers need to be aware of the negative aspects poised to influence the industry as well.

  • Yields may be strong, but prices are not. In addition, just because a farmer can produce more doesn’t mean he or she has enough space to store it before selling it. It may behoove farmers to produce slightly less to keep production costs down.
  • Experts expect the cost for crop production to increase in 2019.
  • A decrease in crop profitability isn’t correlating to a decrease in rent. A visceral desire to control land can make rent negotiations tough, especially when there are other farmers willing to pay steep rent costs.
  • While stable farmland prices is a good thing for established farmers, it’s a challenge for those trying to get their foot in the door. Farmland value remains high, placing it out of reach for up and coming farmers.

Running a successful farming operation requires balancing risk against profit. For example, overreaching or poor planning can turn a successful yield into a financial disaster. Farmers who take the time to learn and plan for the above trends can navigate around the negative while capitalizing on the positive. To learn more about reducing your 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.

How to Protect Farms from Frigid Winter Weather

Posted November 15, 2018 by Administrator

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
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • 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.

5 Crops That Perform Well in the Fall

Posted October 23, 2018 by Administrator

As temperatures start to drop lower, many farmers stop their planting efforts. This is unsurprising since many crops don’t fare well in cold weather. Freezing temperatures, frost, and snow cripple most crops, but not all of them. Root vegetables perform well despite the change in season; farmers can also take this time to jump-start their spring planting efforts. While fall planting isn’t for every farmer, the following crops offer farmers a prolonged planting season:

  1. It’s easy for farmers to obtain onion bulblets in the fall. Before temperatures drop to below freezing, farmers can reap fresh scallions. Once winter hits full force, the onions will remain dormant until temperatures increase. The crops will pop up in the spring, giving farmers a head start on the season.
  2. As a member of the same plant family as the onion, leeks perform well in the fall and winter. They perform best when planted in the early fall.
  3. Strawberries. Most farmers that cultivate strawberries purchase them for spring planting. However, farmers can increase their productivity by getting started in the fall. Most farmers pinch off the blossoms during the initial season to allow the plant to better develop its roots. By doing this in the fall, farmers can harvest the fruit at the start of the main season.
  4. Radishes. These plants grow much faster than most. Within four weeks of planting, farmers can begin harvesting. Because they thrive in cooler temperatures, farmers can plant and harvest them multiple times during the fall and winter. It also helps that cold weather enhances their flavor.
  5. Greens. Lettuce, kale, and spinach are great fall crops as cooler temperatures make the leaves taste sweeter. Like onions, farmers don’t need to fear planting them too late to harvest. They’ll sprout back up once temperatures begin to rise after winter.

Even though the above crops are excellent for fall planting, farmers do need to take steps to protect them from extreme winter temperatures. This means sprinkling a loose layer of straw over them to protect them from frost heaving. To learn more about how to protect fall crops, 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.

Assessing Risk in the Farming Industry

Posted October 9, 2018 by Administrator

Running a successful farm takes hard work and careful risk management. Farms face several unique risks that don’t affect other industries. However, assessing those risks follows the same process. While the degree of acceptable risk and the approach to handle it will differ from person to person, the framework for identifying risks remains unchanged.

Develop a Risk Heat Chart

A heat chart provides a simple visual tool to identify if a risk is significant enough and likely enough to address. The chart below is a simple illustration comparing the potential effect of a risk on the left and the likelihood of the risk occurring on the bottom. The darker the color, the more damage the risk can cause to the business.

To make a usable risk heat chart, farmers need to perform the following:

  1. Pinpoint things that can go wrong. This includes external and internal risks. This step is critical because many farmers overlook risks they think are unlikely, which can come back to haunt them later. Some external risks include fluctuating markets, law and regulations governing farming, and weather events. Internal risks can be a loss of employees due to failing health or quitting, damage to assets such as a barn fire, personal debt, and more.
  2. Estimate the potential effect. Once farmers identify risks that can affect their farm, they need to determine how much it can hurt their operation. Farmers will want to seek input from employees to gain a balanced view of the risks. Using the above heat chart, farmers can assign five categories ranging from negligible to severe for the potential effect the risk can exert on the farm.
  3. Estimate how likely the risk is. Similar to the above step, farmers need to look at their risks and determine how likely they are to happen. From there, they can assign them to one of five categories ranging from remote to probable.

Once farmers know their risks and decide how much they can affect the business and how likely they are to occur, they can plug them into the various slots on the heat chart. For example, if a farmer estimates that a drought it possible this year (category 3 risk) and the potential effect is severe (category 5), this creates a risk score of 15—one of the hottest risks on the heat chart. This tells the farmer he or she needs to develop a risk management strategy to protect their farming operation. All farms have risks they need to address, but they don’t need to do it alone. The experts at Cline Wood can help you identify all risks that could affect your farm as well as implement strategies to mitigate them. Contact us to learn more.

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.

How to Estimate Corn Yield Using 2 Methods

Posted September 25, 2018 by Administrator

Farmers rely on corn yield estimates to make crop management and grain marketing decisions. However, basic methods of calculating crop yield can produce misleading results. The more simple the calculation, the greater the margin of error is. All methods of estimating corn yield require farmers to count the kernels on an ear of corn.

The simplest of methods relies on estimating how many ears per acre a farm produces. While it may be easier to estimate ears per acre and multiply that by the number of kernels per an average size ear of corn, the results will not be accurate. The following outlines two methods for estimating corn yield starting with the least accurate method.

  1. Simple but inaccurate. As mentioned above, the simplest method is the least accurate. To achieve a rough estimate of corn yield, farmers who anticipate around 26,000 ears per acre can select an average size ear of corn, count its kernels, and multiply it by 0.289 (this multiplier implies an average size kernel). Farmers should skip kernels near the top that are less than half the size of regular kernels. To do this, farmers can count the kernels in one row on the ear of corn and multiply it by the number of total rows. For example, 12 rows with 48 kernels is 576 kernels per ear (12*48 = 576). Multiplying this by 0.289 equates to approximately 166.5 bushels per acre (166.464 to be exact). This math makes several assumptions about the ears per acre as well as the average kernel size. It also excludes outliers such as pests, drought, and other stressors that can affect kernel size or overall yield.
  2. Recalculating for population and seed size. The above example assumes a crop production of around 26,000 ears per acre. However, farmers should reduce this number by 1000-2000 to account for pests and other issues that can affect the final yield number. They should also incorporate a multiplier for kernel size ranging from small to large to take weather conditions into consideration. Poor weather will yield smaller kernels and vice versa. For this particular example, farmers should use the following equations to get a better idea of what to expect:
    1. 25,000 ears per acre in a stressful year: 576*0.227=~131 bushels per acre
    2. 25,000 ears per acre in an average year: 576*0.278=~160 bushels per acre
    3. 25,000 ears per acre in a very productive year: 576*0.357=~205.5 bushels per acre

This results in a possible range of 131-205.5 bushels per acre. While the simple method’s number fell in this range, the final result could be much less or much more depending on outside factors.

If the farmer wishes to be even more conservative, he or she can reduce their expected yield by 2000 and use the following equations:

  1. 24,000 ears per acre in a stressful year: 576*0.218=~125.5 bushels per acre
  2. 24,000 ears per acre in an average year: 576*0.267=~154 bushels per acre
  3. 24,000 ears per acre in a very productive year: 576*0.342=~197 bushels per acre

This equation produces a range of 125.5-197 bushels per acre. Both of these equations result in more than 70 bushels per acre in difference and can have significant implications for a farmer’s bottom line and budget. Farmers need to prepare for all possibilities for their corn yield so as not to endanger their farming operation. To learn more ways to protect your livelihood and your farm, 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.

Cline Wood expands Risk Management Team with addition of two experienced safety professionals

Posted September 21, 2018 by Erin

CLINE WOOD EXPANDS RISK MANAGEMENT TEAM WITH ADDITION OF TWO EXPERIENCED SAFETY PROFESSIONALS

Cline Wood, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC company, has hired two new risk consultants to help its transportation and agribusiness clients build and enhance their safety cultures and design and implement various industry-specific risk management solutions.

Steve Page has spent over 30 years as a leader in transportation and safety management. His previous leadership positions within several realms of the trucking industry included roles focusing on safety and safety programs, compliance, FMCSR rules and regulations, and driver management/coaching. He earned the NATMI Certified Director of Safety designation in 2003 and many other awards and acknowledgments because of his work in transportation safety. Steve will primarily work with employers in the Midwest region.

Kenny Ray has spent over 30 years building a successful career in safety, security and risk management. His experience includes 25 years as a peace officer in Texas and many years with the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Rangers in various leadership positions. These combined with his most recent role as a transportation safety director have positioned him well to support Cline Wood clients in Texas and the Southwest.

“We are committed to helping our clients build a safety culture that helps control losses and increase the value of their companies,” said Mike Wood, president of Cline Wood, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC company. “Our team is made up of proven professionals who have met the challenges in the industries we represent and they will work with our clients to find solutions to those challenges. We are extremely pleased to have both Steve and Kenny join us, as they embark on a new stage of their careers.”

 

Please contact our Safety & Risk Management team with any questions at safetrucking@clinewood.com.

 

Farmers Share the Top 3 Challenges Facing Agribusiness

Posted September 11, 2018 by Administrator

Small and medium size agribusinesses now experience significant challenges from the local level all the way up to the global stage. They must stretch to meet the growing demand to feed the global population while adhering to unforgiving emissions regulations. This means trying to grow more food on less land to reduce their ecological footprint. To understand these challenges better, CASE IH conducted a survey at the Ag Connect Expo to find out farmers’ biggest concerns. By learning about farmers’ diverse needs, the agriculture industry is better able to innovate and develop technological solutions. Some of the biggest challenges farmers face include:

  1. Meeting the worldwide need for food. As economies boom and populations proliferate, it is becoming harder for farmers to keep up with production demands.
  2. Managing the dearth of land. With less land available, prices are skyrocketing. Farmers need more land to keep up with global demands for food, but purchasing the property is cost prohibitive.
  3. Mandates and regulations. The government issues new regulations in an effort to improve safety and reduce the effect of farming on the environment. However, this means farmers must be ready to pivot and change business operations without disrupting production or increasing costs.

Other concerns farmers identified included the stability of global markets as well as the advancement and use of bio-based fuels. When asked which of the above concerns will affect their farming operation in the immediate future, government regulations was the top response. Nearly one-third of farmers anticipate that government regulations will affect their business in the next year. Tied for the second top issue, about one-quarter of farmers named the lack of land and resulting price increases as well as the instabilities of the global marketplace as their next biggest concerns.

Despite these challenges, an astounding 89% of farmers expect their operation to expand within the next five years. If you anticipate that your farming operation will grow in the near future, you will need to address the above concerns in order to succeed. Part of business planning is identifying and managing risks that can prevent your farm’s success. Contact the experts at Cline Wood to learn how we can help you reduce risk on your farm.

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.

How to Address Farming Labor Shortages with Technology

Posted August 20, 2018 by Administrator

Farming is a demanding job with often incongruous pay for the hours worked. A major contributor to that problem is an insufficient workforce. With many viewing farming as unskilled labor, it’s hard for farmers to attract and retain reliable laborers. As a result, they have to do more and more with limited resources. As farmers creep ever nearer to critical capacity for working hours, innovators are postulating a workable solution in the form of farming robots.

How Will Robots Help?

Automating tasks is not a new concept. Businesses in every industry are unloading their tedious tasks on machines to streamline their processes and free up the human workforce to focus on tasks that are more important. However, agribusinesses have a harder time translating automation into the field. Now, innovators are addressing this need with robots that can perform physical labor.

Even with pay increases, farmers can’t keep laborers in the field to pick fruits, vegetables, etc. Wages range from $11.50 up to $20 an hour, but this still isn’t enough to attract a stable workforce. As a result, farmers are turning to technology to help bridge the gap between consumer demands and their physical labor limitations. In Florida, a startup company developed a robot that can pick strawberries at the same rates as 30 laborers. It can pick a single plant clean in eight seconds and cover eight acres in one day.

Other Potential Uses for Agriculture Technology

Simple labor is just the beginning of robotics technology in farming. Innovators have big plans to automate harvesting, processing, packaging, and handling grocery logistics. The technology has progressed to the point where a robotic arm has the same dexterity as a human hand. This allows the machine to handle soft foods like tomatoes and grapes without damaging them.

Robotics is poised to disrupt the farming industry; however, the intent is to save farmers time while reducing costs. If your farm is struggling with burgeoning expenses, Cline Wood can help. With years of industry experience, we know the risks involved in managing a farm as well as how to mitigate them. Contact us to learn more about reducing your risk to improve your bottom line.

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.

How to Reduce the Risk of Salmonella on Poultry Farms

Posted August 6, 2018 by Administrator

The CDC estimates Salmonella causes 1 million foodborne illnesses per year. Of those incidents, 19,000 result in hospitalization and more than 300 end in death. Individuals suffering from Salmonella often experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, and a fever. More often than not, individuals who contract the disease had multiple elements at play such as not cooking the poultry to the correct temperature. However, poultry farmers have a duty to reduce the risk and spread of Salmonella by adhering to best practices on the farm.

6 Ways to Reduce Bad Bacteria Contamination

Bacterial contagions come from a variety of sources. The most common include:

  • Water
  • Wild birds or pests
  • Visitors
  • Farm personnel’s hygiene and sanitation

To stop the spread of Salmonella on the farm, farmers and workers need to focus on the following areas:

  1. Cleanliness and hygiene. Growing houses are a significant source of contamination on farms. Workers need to ensure they clean these areas between flocks to prevent the spread of residual bacteria. Keeping pests such as flies and rodents under control can help with these efforts as well.
  2. Managing water sources. Water is an easy way for Salmonella bacteria to spread from bird to bird. Some tactics that prove effective are utilizing chlorinated water or organic acids.
  3. Reducing dust. Much like water, dust can contribute to the spread of Salmonella. Farmers should aim for dust levels at 3mg per cubic meter or less.
  4. Contaminated grains can result in Salmonella in the final feed product. Farmers should only purchase grain and feed from mills that adhere to rigorous quality control standards.
  5. Encouraging proper gut flora. Farmers need to establish a good gut flora balance in chicks within days of hatching. This can prevent Salmonella from colonizing them. Ways to achieve this include organic acids, enzymes, and yeast technologies.
  6. Cocci management. Coccidiosis is a disease that affects the intestines of birds and causes diarrhea. It also contributes to the spread of Salmonella so farmers need to implement effective controls to reduce instances of coccidiosis.

Raising healthy poultry free from contagion isn’t just a good farming practice; it also helps keep consumers in good health. Salmonella is just one of the risks poultry farmers have to manage. To learn more about protecting your poultry farm, 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.

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