3 Commonly Overlooked Issues That Cause Roadside Inspection Violations

Posted January 15, 2018 by Administrator

Now that the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate is in effect, commercial drivers can expect major changes to roadside inspections. However, many drivers are still unfamiliar with their ELD and do not understand how it affects the inspection process. To address this, DOT officers have shared valuable insight as to how drivers can use their ELD to reduce inspection frequency and duration as well as increase drive time.

Eliminating Form and Manner Violations

Prior to ELDs, form and manner violations were the most prevalent infractions. This is because drivers had to keep paper logs by hand. Sometime the driver would forget to put in the proper dates, locations, total miles, and so on. ELDs perform all of these functions automatically. Change of duty status violations disappear as well since the ELD will ask a driver if he or she is on duty or off duty when the driver stops the truck.

Reduced Hours of Service (HOS) Violations

ELDs did not change HOS regulations—only how drivers record and track them. Even so, ELDs are helping to reduce HOS violations. Before ELDs, some drivers felt pressured to fudge their HOS to stay on the road for longer to finish a delivery. This creates an environment for fatigued and drowsy driving, putting all individuals on the road at risk. Because drivers cannot alter ELD logs, the compulsion to stretch driving hours beyond HOS regulations vanishes.

Training and Organization

ELDs can reduce the frequency of inspections and certain violations; they can also expedite the inspection process under certain circumstances. Drivers who are familiar with their ELD and know how to use it during an inspection are much more likely to have a speedy inspection than a driver who is fumbling with his device. ELDs come with documentation to assist drivers, but if they shove their paperwork haphazardly into their glove box, they will have a difficult time locating the information they need. Drivers who keep all important documents secured in a 3-ring binder and understand the intricacies of their ELD can spend less time being inspected and more time on the road.

Cline Wood understands the stress fleets and drivers feel trying to comply with safety regulations while learning a new technology. However, ELD devices are vital to improving safety and keeping drivers on the road. Failure to abide by HOS regulations can result in out of service orders, fines, and increases to insurance rates. To learn more about improving transportation safety and reducing costs, contact us today.

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 Prevent Catastrophic Losses Due to Fire

Posted January 8, 2018 by Administrator

Fires happen on farms for a variety of reasons. Knowing the risk factors and implementing methods to reduce them go a long way toward improving safety. However, nothing short of a solid insurance policy will help recoup losses should a fire actually occur. This is the harsh lesson a Montana family is learning.

Destructive Blaze Razes Workshop

On the evening of December 5, 2017, a workshop on the Gordon Farm caught fire. By the time several fire departments responded to the blaze, the flames had overwhelmed the workshop. The structure held three generations worth of farming tools and equipment including a Ford 4000 tractor, a welder, and a grain drill. The family lost antique tools as well.

In total, the damage and losses amounted to $500,000. Making a bad situation worse, the family did not have insurance for the building or the tools. However, the family is counting their blessings. Many of the family members work in the shed well into the night. On this evening, no one was in the building and the family was able to account for everyone’s safety.

The Importance of Insurance

While the family is fundraising to help recoup some of their losses, a solid insurance policy would serve them better. The family indicated they could not afford the premiums, but it only takes one blaze to prove the value of insurance. If your farming operation is also struggling with budgeting for insurance, contact the experts at Cline Wood. We can help you find the coverage you need at the best prices.

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.

3 Useful Tips to Boost Safety on Dairy Farms

Posted January 2, 2018 by Administrator

Unlike other agribusinesses, employees on dairy farms spend a significant amount of time in contact with animals. If they do not take care when handling livestock, the risk of an injury skyrockets. Dairy farming is a high-risk job, so employees need to make themselves aware of their surrounding at all times. Because they work with large animals, dairy farmers are more likely to be crushed, kicked, stepped on, or fallen on by cows. By heeding the following safety reminders, dairy farmers and employees can reduce their risk of injury.

Visual and Aural Cues

Dairy cattle have binocular vision, meaning they can see almost all the way around themselves. The exceptions are a blind spot at their nose and at their rear. As such, it is best to approach dairy cattle from the side. Cattle are also sensitive to loud and high-pitched noises. Farmers and employees should approach the cattle making soft sounds to avoid scaring the animal. Unexpected loud noises can also spook animals, so avoid banging gates or making other abrupt noises.

Avoid Isolation

Cattle are herd animals so they prefer to be near other cattle. Separating them can make them nervous or stressed. This includes working with an individual animal. If a farmer or employee needs to tend to a specific cow, they should be sure to bring another one along to keep the cow calm.

Remember Past Experiences

Cattle are intelligent creatures with a long memory. If a cow had a painful experience in the barn, it may be unwilling or uncooperative when a farmer tries to bring it back to that same place. There are several warning signs to tell if a cow is agitated. It may raise its head, tail, or the hair on its back. It may also pull its ears back, show its teeth, paw at the ground, or snort.

By following the above precautions and staying aware of the cattle at all times, farmers and employees can avoid injuries. However, no amount of safety prevention can supplement a high-quality insurance policy in the event of an injury. As the leading provider of agribusiness insurance, Cline Wood can help your farming operation determine its risk level and how much coverage it needs. To learn more about protecting yourself and your farm, contact us today.

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 Solve the Crop Survival Problem

Posted December 26, 2017 by Administrator

The 1960s and 70s gave birth to the green revolution, yielding significant increases in wheat and rice. This became possible by incorporating alleles into the crop genomes that made plants hardier and more resistant to rust diseases. This prolific crop production kept food affordable for Americans until the early 21st century, when the food crisis of 2008 destabilized prices. Ever since, yield trends fall increasingly short of predicted global needs for 2050, bringing a sharp focus back on improving crop yield and resilience.

21st Century Solutions for Modern Problems

Agro-scientists are looking to not only increase crop yields but improve their resilience as well. However, this is proving to be somewhat of a challenge. Most crop stressors are abiotic in nature, such as drought. While scientists can breed crops that are resistant to drought, these same plants cannot thrive under irrigation. The current goal is to develop a crop that is not only resistant to drought but can thrive under optimal conditions as well.

The biggest challenge thus far has been speeding up improved crop yields. Some possible methods of improvement include:

  • Forward genetic approach. This requires scientists to isolate genes associated with the preferred traits that improve crop yield. This allows them to select and cultivate plants with these traits, but progress is slow going.
  • Reverse genetic approach. Gene cloning allows scientist to understand how certain genes function. However, even when they know which genes are responsible for abiotic resilience, they cannot be certain which gene to target for the best results. Thus far, simple changes have not led to significant increases in crop yield.
  • Increase genetic diversity. Creating a cross between different types of plants can produce rare and resilient crops. For example, scientists have managed to cross an ancient wheat with wild grass to create a synthetic wheat that produces a high yield and is able to withstand drought conditions.

The most probable method to succeed is a combination of all of the above. Sharing research and genetic resources can help tremendously with field-testing. As crop problems evolve, the methods and techniques used to combat it needs to change as well. Farmers and other crop producers need to stay abreast of the latest changes and challenges facing the agribusiness industry. To learn more about improving and protecting your agribusiness, contact Cline Wood today.

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 effective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

Agriculture and Livestock Haulers Receive 90-Day ELD Exemption from FMCSA

Posted December 18, 2017 by Administrator

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a temporary waiver of the electronics logging device (ELD) mandate for agricultural commodities and livestock carriers.

The 90-day waiver will be in effect through March 18, 2018. The FMCSA made it clear that drivers who are operating under the waiver must comply with the following conditions:

  1. Drivers must carry a copy of the waiver notice with them on board and make it available for review during inspections.
  2. Drivers who wish to utilize the waiver must have a “satisfactory” rating from FMCSA or be unrated. Motor carriers with a conditional or unsatisfactory rating are not allowed to take advantage of the waiver.
  3. Drivers using the waiver must notify FMCSA within 5 working business days if they are involved in an accident and must provide details of the incident to the agency.

FMCSA announced that the waiver was being granted to give them time to gather additional public commentary on the mandate so that they can better address the concerns of agricultural and livestock haulers related to operating under the ELD regulation.

The agency specified that it wants to investigate “certain exemption applications” related to the agricultural industry concerning the use of ELDs to document hours of service for drivers. The agency also wants to clarify the “applicability of requirements” for agricultural carriers as it relates to the original deadline.

FMCSA officials have indicated they will be providing related to the existing 150 air miles hours-of-service exemption. The guidance is expected to assist carriers in understanding how to maximize the use of the statutory exemption. The agency has indicated a desire to implement the ELD mandate using a process that improves safety without impeding commerce.

The agency has indicated they will be publishing an official notice of the waiver announcement in the Federal Register in the next few days. For more on transportation and agribusiness updates and coverages, contact 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 Reduce Electrical Threats on the Farm

Posted December 11, 2017 by Administrator

Unlike other farming risks, electrical threats are unforgiving. There is rarely a second chance to learn from electrical safety mistakes. Electrocution can cause severe damage and even result in death. That is why it is vital for farmers to make themselves aware of all electrical threats on their land and develop methods to manage them. On the farm, the most common electrical threats are wires and cables that provide electricity to the farm. These can be overhead or underground. Physical electrical installations pose significant risks as well.

Managing Electrical Risks

Proper education and maintenance can help prevent most electrical incidents. For example, farmers who educate their workers on underground cable locations can avoid accidents due to digging too close to the lines. Inspecting installations can also reveal maintenance issues and allow farmers to address them before they cause an accident.

Repairs

Repairing electrical problems is a risky venture in and of itself. Farmers should take care never to touch fallen wires. They should also remember that anything touching exposed electrical wires is electrified as well. For example, an entire fence can become an electric threat if a downed wire is touching it. Farmers can do their part by replacing damaged equipment, but they should leave any major electrical job to the professionals.

Dos and Don’ts of Electrical Safety

While most farmers know not to work too close to electrical poles or disturb underground cables, there are several other electrical safety tips they should follow. These include:

  • Keep emergency phone numbers on hand to address electrical issues as fast as possible
  • Stay away from fallen electrical wires and contact the appropriate authorities to manage them
  • Employ electrical contractors to manage repairs and installations
  • Remember that electrical cables and wires are always live—even fallen and low hanging wires—farmers should not approach or touch them
  • Never make assumptions about electrical safety

There are several risks on farms—some more forgiving than others are. Electricity does not often afford a second chance so it behooves farmers to take all possible electrical safety precautions. While farmers cannot prevent all risks, following the above safety measures can help. To learn more about farm safety, 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.

Valuable Insights for Grain and Feed Quality Control

Posted December 4, 2017 by Administrator

Companies that handle grain need to maximize the quality and quantity of their product to achieve maximum profitability. However, several pitfalls can occur during the handling, storage, and distribution of the grain. Grain companies need to develop superior inspection procedures as well as tighten up their moisture management processes.

Assessing Grain Quality

Grain companies cannot hope to evaluate the quality of their product without consistent sampling protocols across all facilities. The Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) provides courses to help companies develop sampling procedures for this reason. Grain companies should also be sure to pull samples from every vehicle to have an accurate representation of the entire delivery.

Managing Moisture

Grain companies need to bin their products by moisture levels. This is because the relative moisture dictates how long the grain can remain in storage.

  • Dry: If the grain moisture level is below 16.5, it can go into long-term storage.
  • Semi wet: If grain moisture levels are between 16.5 and 18.5, companies should store the product in fixed bins. They should aerate and monitor the bins while positioning them for maximum drying.
  • Wet: If grain moisture levels exceed 18.5, companies should put the product into short-term storage with a dryer.

How companies manage the binning process matters as well. For example, the company should determine where grain should go depending on its moisture level. They should keep staff abreast of the grain condition as well and develop a plan for maximum retention. This should include weekly temperature and CO2 readings.

Grain quality begins to decline the moment it is cut, which affects the overall yield. Entering into a facility does not do it any favors either. To maximize profits, grain companies need to manage moisture levels and monitor their stock closely. To learn more about protecting and maximizing your agribusiness’ potential, 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.

Cargo Theft Webinar: Identify and Control Your Vulnerabilities

Posted November 28, 2017 by Administrator

In 2016, cargo theft cost US transportation businesses over $100,000,000, with an incident occurring every 11 hours. Join Cline Wood University and subject matter expert Steve Covey from the National Insurance Crime Bureau as we discuss the serious risk of cargo theft and what can be done to mitigate it. Topics include:

* Varying methods of cargo theft in the transportation industry
* Types of active theft crews
* Fictitious pickups and questionable carriers
* Preventative measures for keeping the supply chain safe

Date & Time: Wed, Dec 6, 2017 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM CST

Register at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7967134209406139395

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.

FMCSA Releases Electronic Logging Device Transition Information

Posted November 21, 2017 by Erin

FMCSA has released additional information on the ELD Transition. The ELD rule is going forward as planned on December 18, 2017.  Listed below are the most recent details provided by FMCSA in regard to the ELD transition:

  1. FMCSA will continue its policy of transparency towards the industry when it comes to implementation issues of this rule, passed by Congress five years ago.
  2. The ELD rule is going forward as planned on December 18, 2017. FMCSA has listened to important feedback from many stakeholder groups and is primarily concerned with helping ease the transition to full implementation of the ELD rule in a manner that does not impede the flow of commerce and maintains and improves safety for operators and the public.
  3. To ease the transition to ELDs, FMCSA’s partners at the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance have previously announced a delay in placing non-ELD compliant vehicles out-of-service until April 1, 2018, which will allow continued time for carriers and law enforcement to adjust to the new technology. In addition, FMCSA is announcing that violations cited during the time period of December 18, 2017 through April I, 2018 will not count against a carrier’s Safety Measurement System scores.
  4. FMCSA has heard concerns specific to the transportation of agricultural commodities, especially the transportation of livestock. While those concerns are specifically related to the hours-of-­service requirements and not ELD, FMCSA feels it is important to take additional time to evaluate these issues, and therefore will be issuing a 90-day waiver for these groups (detailed in forthcoming guidance) to allow the Agency to fully evaluate recently filed exemption requests.
  5. In the coming weeks, FMCSA will publish guidance for comment relating to the application of the agricultural commodity hours-of-service exemption. FMCSA will also provide guidance on the existing 150 air miles hours-of-service exemption in order to provide clarity to enforcement and industry and will consider comments received before publishing final guidance.
  6. Finally, FMCSA will publish guidance on another hours-of-service issue, known as Personal Conveyance, which has become more relevant due to the upcoming ELD rule enforcement. The goal of these guidance documents is to take input on their application and develop a consistent and uniform application of the provision.
  7. Public participation in this guidance is essential to the process, so we ask for continued engagement from all impacted stakeholder groups across industries.

Click Here to View the Official Notice from FMCSA

Source: Kansas Motor Carriers Association

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.

6 Ways Connected Farm Technology Benefits Modern Agribusiness

Posted November 17, 2017 by Administrator

Today’s agribusiness operations are flourishing. Modern farms tend to be much larger than farms were even a decade ago. Larger farms mean an increase in the number of tractors and other equipment that is needed to keep agricultural businesses functioning efficiently. This creates a logistics challenge for farmers. In order to meet this challenge, connected fleet technology is evolving to improve coordination and management of agribusiness operations both large and small.

Here are 6 ways connected fleet technology is helping farmers who oversee a farming fleet streamline their operations.

  1. Optimization of assets

When farming equipment is in use, the manager needs to coordinate what’s happening in the field. The manager needs to know where each operator and equipment is located in order to coordinate and increase efficiency.

In addition to coordination benefits, real-time data makes it easy for operators to make adjustments while in the field. For example, if an operator realizes that the default planting speed of a tractor is too slow, the operator and farming manager would receive notifications. The manager could then contact the driver (or vice versa) to increase the rate of planting. These types of alerts are now available due to sensors that track everything from fuel levels, engine temperature, driver behavior and maintenance schedules. This type of monitoring and notification system helps ensure that the agribusiness is meeting its goals.

  1. Better data means better planning

Connected agribusiness fleets are able to provide fleet managers with historic data that is drastically improving strategic planning. Historic data can be used to optimize harvesting logistics and help predict maintenance needs on equipment. This allows the owner to better utilize slow periods during the farming cycle.

Data from connected fleet farming management systems are helping farmers make informed decisions about when and what type of vehicle replacements are needed. Data related to fuel use, efficiency and maintenance needs helps managers plan effectively for equipment purchases, which reduces down time when vehicles break down.

  1. Field monitoring improves harvest

Fleet managers are able to make better decisions with real-time monitoring of field activities, which in turn improves harvest yields. Connected fleet management technology now allows remote viewing of each tractor, enabling the fleet manager to compare efficiency and trouble shoot problems. The fleet manager can communicate quickly and easily with the operator, ensuring the entire fleet is operating at peak levels. These types of in-the-moment adjustments can have a dramatic effect on harvest outcomes.

  1. Proper recordkeeping

Proper documentation is required for hours-of-service compliance as well as employee hours worked and insurance purposes. Connected fleet technology makes record documentation automatic and accurate. For example, electronic logging for livestock hauling is now required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Whether for compliance purposes or for internal recording and decision making purposes, fleet management systems will streamline these important documentation activities.

  1. Coordination of equipment sharing programs

Today’s farms are growing and specialized equipment needed to operate can be costly. Many farms time-share expensive equipment and other moveable assets. Equipment sharing programs allow multiple farms to share valuable equipment. Connected fleet management systems make it easier to manage these types of equipment sharing programs. Clocking hours and billing is streamlined when connected technology is used.

  1. Geofencing for increased security

Vehicle theft and unauthorized vehicle use is always a risk when it comes to expensive mobile assets. High-value agribusinesses are a target for thieves. Connected fleet technology uses geofencing to alert the owner when a vehicle is moved from a pre-determined area, giving farmers the opportunity to leave equipment in remote locations, reducing the time it takes to move and engage the equipment. Geofencing means the owner can rest assured he will be notified if the vehicle is moved or tampered with.

If you own a farm or are a farming operation fleet manager, you know the logistical challenges large operations pose. With the right connected technology solution, you can easily track the performance of your fleet, know the location of each piece of machinery, plan for maintenance and make wise decisions when it comes to replacement.

Cline Wood is more than just an insurance agency. We tailor insurance and risk products and services that improve your bottom line. As a Cline Wood client, we care about your farming operation; you can depend on the knowledge and experience of Cline Wood to help analyze and solve your needs. To learn more about how Cline Wood can help your agribusiness, 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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