New Severe Winter Weather Warning to be Issued by National Weather Service

Posted November 1, 2017 by Administrator

The National Weather Service (NWS) will begin to issue a new type of snow warning this winter. Beginning in January 2018, the new warning will be specifically released in the event of a snow squall.

A snow squall is an intense snowfall event with limited duration. The snowfall itself is described as “moderate to heavy” and is accompanied by strong, gusty surface winds. Lightening sometimes accompanies a snow squall. The accumulated snow may be at a significant level.

The NWS released a statement that declared “annual highway fatalities from these events can exceed fatalities due to tornadoes.” Snow squalls contain intense snowfall rates that drop visibility and make roads slippery. The sudden change in poor weather conditions can lead to dangerous travel conditions. The short-term outpouring of snow will suddenly and severely restrict visibility and make it very difficult to safely navigate the road.

Snow squalls were the cause of a 30 vehicle pile-up on I-81 in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. There was one fatality and many serious injuries in the crash.

The Snow Squall Warning will be issued in the following conditions:

  1. A white-out situation with visibility of less than ¼ mile.
  2. Sub-freezing road temperatures that allow for a quick build-up of snowfall.
  3. Dangerous and potentially life-threatening travel conditions.

Snow squalls are very dangerous for big rigs. It’s a major cause of vehicle pile-ups. They are one of the most deadly weather events that can occur. In the past, there hasn’t been a good system for warning motorists of the hazard. This new warning system will be used to warn the public, giving them time to slow down and hopefully save lives.

The Snow Squall Warning will be issued in a similar way to Severe Thunderstorm or Severe Flooding Warnings are issued now. The alerts will be issued through the Emergency Alert System. Local regions, or “polygon-based” systems will be specified. These areas will be continually updated throughout the hazard.

The NWS will be issuing Snow Squall Warnings from the following field offices:

  • State College, Pennsylvania
  • Buffalo, New York
  • Binghamton, New York
  • Burlington, Vermont
  • Detroit
  • Pittsburgh
  • Cheyenne, Wyoming

If a Snow Squall Warning is issued in the area you are traveling, the NWS recommends that you consider avoiding or delaying your travel until the snow squall passes. If you must stay on the road, use extra caution and allow extra time. Be aware that rapid changes in visibility and slick roads may lead to accidents.

Cline Wood represents top trucking and agribusiness insurance carriers across the country. We have access to all types of insurance programs. We treat your company as if it were our own. Contact us today to find out how we can help you manage your risk, which directly contributes to your bottom line.

ATA Reports Shortage of National Truck Drivers to Reach 50,000 by End of 2017

Posted October 25, 2017 by Administrator

The American Trucking Association released the findings of their latest study on the shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. The report, released October 20, 2017, indicates that the trucking industry is expected to have a shortage of 50,000 truck drivers by the end of 2017.

In addition to the general lack of new applicants, the lack of qualified drivers is a significant factor in the overall problem. This is a serious concern for the industry as a whole, as well as a concern for the supply chain infrastructure and the U.S. economy.

This is the first study that has examined the truck driver shortage since 2015. Researchers found that the truck driver shortage decreased from 45, 000 in 2015 to 36,500 in 2016 but has increased to an expected 50,000 in 2017.

The reason for the decrease in 2016 was a reduction in the demand for cargo deliveries, triggered by the collapse of oil prices at the end of 2014. When fuel prices drop, carrier revenues fall due to declining fuel surcharges. This is called a “freight recession.” Freight volume and rates finally started to come back in mid-2016 and a boom market in November and December 2016 for the demand for truck freight boosted truckload rates.

If the current trends continue the shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. could increase to more than 174,000 by 2026. In addition to the overall lack of drivers and lack of qualified drivers, the ATA study found the following contributors to the current truck driver shortage includes:

  • an aging driver population
  • lifestyle issues
  • regulatory challenges.

In order to address this increasing shortage, fleets are increasing wages and offering other incentives. Fleets are also reaching out to women and other non-traditional workforce demographic populations. Industry advocates are calling for policy changes, such as reducing the age of drivers while simultaneously putting in place a graduated licensing system and making it easier for returning veterans to qualify for a CDL. These, and other innovative programs are working to make it easier – and more attractive – to enter the truck driving profession.

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 business; 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 trucking business, click here.

ATVs Pose Safety Risks for Farmers

Posted October 18, 2017 by Administrator

ATVs are a popular method of transportation on farms. However, as their use increases, so do the number of related accidents and injuries. What is more, up to one-third of those incidents involve children. In 2014, ATV accidents represented almost 94,000 trips to the emergency room. These numbers have continued to rise in the intervening years. To reduce the likelihood of injury while using an ATV, farmers need to take several precautions.

ATV Precautions for Farm Safety

ATVs represent such a significant hazard for farmers for several reasons. For starters, family members tend to use them for recreation when the farmer does not need it for work. If a child wants to ride an ATV, the farmer needs to ensure the adolescent is on an appropriate sized ATV. When a child drives an adult-sized ATV, the risk of an accident skyrockets. In addition, any rider needs to equip the appropriate gear. This includes:

  • A helmet with a face shield OR appropriate goggles
  • Gloves
  • Boots
  • Long pants
  • A jacket or long-sleeved shirt

Farmers should also stress that ATVs should only have one rider at a time. Riding with more than one individual increases the likelihood of an accident. Another common source of accidents is riding ATVs on the road. ATV wheels are best suited to terrain, not pavement, gravel, or dirt.

ATVs and Liquid Tank Safety Precautions

Another issue to consider is if the ATV has a liquid tank. Many ATVs used for farming have such tanks to help with pesticide application. These tanks change the center of gravity for the ATV, making them easier to roll. The sloshing of liquids compounds this problem. Below are several recommendations to reduce risk while operating ATVs with liquid tanks:

  • Inform another farmhand or family member before using an ATV. Let the individual know how long you plan to be using the vehicle.
  • Equip the tank with internal baffles to diminish the likelihood of sloshing water.
  • Make slow turns to account for water movement inside the tank.
  • Survey the land beforehand to learn of any holes, large rocks, and other obstructions.

While ATVs have their uses on the farm, improper use can result in catastrophe. Farmers should familiarize themselves and anyone else operating an ATV on basic ATV safety to avoid accidents and injuries. To learn more about reducing risks and hazards on the farm, contact the experts at Cline Wood.

FBI Warns Agricultural Industry about Increasing Cyber Risk

Posted October 11, 2017 by Administrator

In a Private Industry Notification (PIN) targeted to the agricultural industry, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Cyber Division warned the food and agriculture sector that it is increasingly becoming vulnerable to cyber attacks. As the adoption of technology and digital data increases in the farming community, cyber crime is on the rise. Smart farming practices, also known as the “Third Green Revolution” or “precision agriculture technology” has shown tremendous positive impacts on reducing the costs of farming and increasing crop yields. The report warns farmers to be aware of and understand the cyber risks associated with using modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and develop adequate cyber security and breach response strategies.

A Growing Threat

There is a growing threat of cyber targeting activity against the food and agriculture sector, warns the FBI. Cyber criminals are seeking to steal farm-level data in bulk. An example of how valuable this information is, government-authorized big data analytics are being used to aggregate farm-level data to track and even anticipate crop pricing and availability. Another target by cyber attackers could be to steal aggregate and/or analyzed data to exploit U.S. agriculture resources and market trends.

Other threats include:

  • Increased cyber targeting of farm-level data gathered by equipment that collects and analyzes data about soil content and past crop yields, including planting recommendations.
  • Cyber hacking of public worldwide climate and crop data used to design data visualization tools for farmers. Big data in agriculture is being used to help farmers make sustainable decisions that have an impact on food supply.
  • Susceptibility to ransomware and data destruction.
  • Drone manufacturers are focused on offering low pricing structures for farmers by using systems that are interoperable with networked devices with poor cyber security protections.

Challenges

Historically, the farming industry has lacked awareness of how to protect their data from cyber exploitation.

  • In a 2014 American Farm Bureau study of 3,400 farmers, almost half intended to invest in smart farming technologies in the next 2 years. However, 76% of the respondents expressed concerns that unauthorized individuals could hack their data and use it for commodity market speculation. Even more concerning is the finding that less than 5% of companies holding their data had a security breach response plan in place.
  • Drone manufacturers offering farmers recognize the demand for low pricing. They use interoperable data in order to keep costs low at the expense of more expensive analytics that protect against cyber attacks. Farmers have depended on drone RGB (red, green, blue) photography and thermography to monitor crop growth for the last decade. (CyberTrend, 2016.)

Recommendations

The report warns the food and agriculture industry to increase awareness of the cyber risks to farm-level data collected through precision technology and urges that farmers take the following precautionary measures:

  • Ask data management companies that store farm-level data to reveal their cyber security features and ensure adequate protections are in place.
  • Monitor employee logins, especially those that occur outside normal business hours.
  • Develop a centralized Information Technology email account that can be used to report suspicious logins, emails and other unusual activity
  • Provide ongoing training to remind and inform employees about current cyber security threats
  • Monitor outgoing data, and be ready to block unknown IP addresses
  • Monitor unusual traffic, especially from non-standard ports
  • Close unused ports
  • Create a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for remote login capability.

The FBI, in conjunction with the USDA, strongly urges members of the food and agriculture sector to refer to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team Website for additional cyber security information and resources.

Cline Wood is here to help farmers and agricultural-related businesses protect themselves against the growing risk of cyber crime. Contact us today to learn more about how our agribusiness insurance experts can help you be prepared in today’s changing environment.

Five Tips for Agribusinesses to Combat White Mold

Posted October 4, 2017 by Administrator

Farmers face a variety of hurdles in order to cultivate a successful crop. White mold is just one of those obstacles. This fungus thrives in cool damp environments. Foggy and brisk mornings create the perfect conditions for white mold to take root.

At first, individuals may mistake the fungus as rat droppings. It presents as firm, black, asymmetrical-shaped forms; these are sclerotia. When the environment cools and the canopy closes, the growth produces tiny mushrooms. The fungus is most likely to take hold during flowering as spores land on dead flowers and invade the plant.

How to Deal with White Mold

By the time the fungus is noticeable, the infestation is two to four weeks old. Below are several tips farmers should keep in mind when dealing with white mold.

  1. No spray can stop the mold once it has taken root. Save time and money by allowing the mold to run its course. In general, white mold does not colonize from plant to plant. It is possible, but not typical.
  2. Farmers do not need to fear for their entire farm. A field must have sclerotia present in order for the fungus to grow. However, farmers will want to take note of any infected fields, as they will always have sclerotia after an infection.
  3. Farmers should harvest infected fields last. Sclerotia lodge themselves in all areas of combine harvesters, so farmers can inadvertently contaminate other fields if they harvest from infested fields first.
  4. Once harvesting is complete, farmers should avoid tilling infected fields. Surface level sclerotia will die off faster than those buried underground will.
  5. Farmers should also stay vigilant in their weed removal. White mold can take hold in a variety of plants, including weeds, legumes, and alfalfa. For future crops, farmers should consider wheat or corn for previously infected fields, as they are more resistant to the fungus.

Dealing with mold is never a fun task, but farmers who follow the above guidelines can keep future infestations to a minimum. Farmers can also protect their venture by investing in farming insurance. As the leading provider of agribusiness insurance, Cline Wood can help farmers identify and mitigate risks to their crops and fields. To learn more, contact us today.

Increasingly Sophisticated Weather Forecasting Technology a Boon to Trucking Industry

Posted September 26, 2017 by Administrator

Sophisticated weather forecasting technology applications help trucking fleets navigate adverse weather conditions that could pose freight delivery delays or safety risks.

New technologies provide drivers in the contintental U.S. with weather-related information to improve safety and efficiency. With these new applications, drivers can view:

  • current radar
  • precipitation on roadways
  • wind speed
  • current and extended forecasts, helping them be aware of the weather ahead.

Weather prediction resources have significantly improved since the days when the Farmers’ Almanac was the best weather forecaster source.

Rapidly improving technology has put weather forecasting and radar capabilities into the hands of those who need this information the most, which includes truck drivers. Weather technology continues to improve, current technologies are able to predict the disruptive impact of weather events and suggest actions that can be taken to mitigate the effects of the disruption.

This ability to foresee the weather and make adjustments as needed is especially useful for trucking fleets, whose daily operations can be disrupted, sometimes for days or weeks, from the effects of a hurricane, flash flood or blizzard.

According to PeopleNet, a provider of fleet management technology, weather has accounted for $3.5 billion in mobility costs and $14 billion in accident costs. Amazingly, 93% of those disasters can now be predicted using the new, cutting-edge predictive applications.

The new weather technology may be the catalyst for change for today’s competitive trucking firms, who must deal with disruptive weather events. A large-scale weather event, such as Hurricane Harvey that recently swept through the Houston, TX region, can have a disastrous effect on the transportation supply chain.

Weather is one of the biggest causes of market volatility in both the short term as well as the long term. These new technologies can help mitigate the impact such events can have throughout the supply chain. Companies are starting to use trading platforms that enable independents, fleets and third-party logistics firms to lock in rates ahead of major weather events like earthquakes.

Weather forecasting has been used to predict market price volatility for commodities since the 1980’s and is already commonly used by oil, gas and grain traders.

Enhanced notifications of road and cargo hazards can help carriers minimize losses and reduce down times. The new technology will enable drivers and equipment to maximize their potential while improving delivery efficiency during harsh weather seasons. For more on transportation safety, news, and risk, contact Cline Wood.

Amendment to Delay Commercial Truck Driver ELD Mandate Fails in U.S. House of Representatives

Posted September 18, 2017 by Administrator

An amendment to delay the roll out of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate that is slated to go into effect December 17, 2017 was recently defeated in the U.S. House of Representatives. The amendment would have stalled the EDL enforcement date for ten months.

Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) was sponsored by Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas.) The amendment would have restricted funding for enforcement through the 2018 fiscal year, effectively delaying the mandate until September 30, 2018. The amendment was defeated with a 246-173 final vote.

Babin has also filed a bill in the House that will delay the ELD mandate’s enforcement date by two years to December 2019. This bill has been referred to the House of Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation. The bill is seeking the implementation of the ELD mandate by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) be delayed for two years to give drivers time to make the transition from paper logs to an electronic logging device.

The purpose of the ELD rule is to create a safer work environment for drivers. It will also make it easier and faster to track and share records of duty status (RODS) information. The ELD will synchronize with the engine of the commercial vehicle to automatically record driving time, making sure that Hours of Service (HOS) records are accurate.

There are exceptions to the ELD mandate. The following drivers are not required, by law, to use an ELD, unless they volunteer to do so.

  • Drivers who use traditional logs no more than 8 days during any 30-day period
  • So called driveaway-towaway drivers (drivers who transport an empty vehicle for sale, lease or repair)
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before the year 2000

An evaluation by the FMCSA studied the safety benefits for carriers that utilize an ELD. The FMCSA found that there is an 11.7% reduction in crash rates and a 50% reduction in hours-of-service violations; it is estimated that implementation of the ELD mandate will prevent 1,844 large truck crashes and save the lives of at least 26 people each year.

Motor carriers that meet the agricultural exemption or the covered farm vehicle FMCSA exemptions are not subject to the ELD rule while operating under the terms of the exemption. The duty status of the driver may be noted as either “off-duty” or “exempt.” Click here for more information on the agricultural exemption for the ELD mandate.

National Farm Safety and Health Week to Focus on Implementing Safety Practices

Posted September 13, 2017 by Administrator

Farming has always been a hazardous job with many risks not seen in other industries. Because of this, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a proclamation in 1944 to bring more attention to the plight of the everyday farmer. The goal of this proclamation was to reduce farming injuries as their steadily increasing numbers were hindering the war effort. That proclamation is now known as National Farm Safety Week. This year, National Farm Safety Week runs from September 17 through September 23.

In spite of this increased focus, agribusinesses represent one of the most dangerous industries in the country. For example, over 400 farmers and farmhands died from work-related accidents in 2015. While these numbers are grim, the farming industry is experiencing improvements in safety and decreases in injuries. To continue this trend, the National Farm and Safety Week theme is focusing on implementing safety best practices. Below is a summary of events for the week:

  • September 18: Tractor safety
  • September 19: Farmer health and wellbeing
  • September 20: Health and safety of children
  • September 21: Confined spaces
  • September 22: Rural thoroughfare safety

Below are some highlights of each segment to help farmers improve safety and reduce risks.

Tractor Safety

  • Tractors and transportation accidents are the most common cause of death on farms. Tractors rolling over represent a significant amount of these incidents. As such, farmers should make use of roll over protective structures (ROPS).
  • Relating to farm transportation, farmers should implement safety practices to reduce run over incidents and PTO entanglements as well.
  • Farmers should also avoid risky shortcuts. The potential time saved is not worth the risk. Maintain vehicles and fix mechanical issues to reduce the temptation to make use of a dangerous bypass.

Farmer Health

Many farmers experience health issues later in life. Some are hard of hearing while others may require oxygen. However, farmers can avoid many of these health concerns by wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes:

  • Respirators
  • Eye protection
  • Hearing Protection

Farmers should also look after their mental wellbeing in addition to their physical health. Isolation is a leading factor in depression so farmers should take their mental health seriously.

Health and Safety of Children

Each year, around 110 children and teenagers die from farming incidents. Causes range from machinery incidents to ATVs to drowning and more. This particular day will focus on creating areas that are safe for children to play as well as educating farmers on how to make farms safer for kids.

Confined Spaces

Farmers encounter hazardous gas and entrapment dangers when entering manure or grain pits. This particular day will focus on how to store and access grain as well as how to enter manure pits safely.

Rural Thoroughfare Safety

When farm vehicles and passenger vehicles collide, there are grievances on both sides. Instead of focusing on who is at fault, this day will concentrate on ways farmers and passengers alike can reduce the risk of an accident.

Cline Wood is dedicated to improving farm safety. As the leading provider of agribusiness insurance, we can help farmers identify and reduce risks. To learn more, contact us.

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.

Three Tips to Reduce Farming Risks

Posted September 5, 2017 by Administrator

Many individuals use the term risk when discussing farming when they really mean uncertainty. Risks are measurable; farmers can calculate and prepare for them. Uncertainties are not quantifiable which means farmers cannot gauge them. While most people do not like to dwell on the negative, farmers cannot afford to ignore risks within their operation. Below are several risks that farmers can address and mitigate straightaway.

Clear Contingency Plans

No one likes to consider his or her mortality, but it is necessary to ensure farms continue to run smoothly during adverse events. Farmers need to make sure vital employees have a backup team in place. Backup employees can be existing staff members. These substitute workers should have all necessary skills to perform the job, so farmers may need to cross train these individuals. Contingency plans are not only in place for deaths. They allow farmers to leave the farm if needed without bringing business to a halt.

Family Feuds

Farms are often a family operation, but this presents challenges. Power struggles and secrecy plague family businesses. These issues are particularly damaging during a transfer of leadership. Almost all family businesses suffer from communication problems. Some examples include authoritarianism, refusing to accept blame, and ongoing disputes. Farmers can hire consultants who specialize in family businesses to address communication issues. Bringing in a third party will help keep emotions out of business discussions.

Victims of Success

While many business owners may think there is no such thing as too much success, farmers are at an increased risk of expanding at an unsustainable rate. Before taking advantage of a growth opportunity, farmers need to analyze the costs of their current operation as well as how much money they have in reserve. Farmers need to make sure they can bear the burden of increased costs while waiting for returns. They also need to address logistical elements. For example, if a farmer purchases new land two hours away from his or her home, he or she needs to determine who will manage it.

Farmers cannot remove every threat to their operation. Some are uncontrollable, such as the environment. However, several farming risks are manageable and farmers should take steps to confront them. Cline Wood can help farmers identify risks specific to their farms and suggest methods to managing them. To learn more, 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.

Multiple Factors Drive Rise in Refrigerated Commercial Trailer Sales

Posted August 28, 2017 by Administrator

The refrigerated trucking industry is of critical importance to both the trucking industry and the U.S. economy as a whole. The refrigerated trucking industry hauled 520.1 million tons of freight in 2015, which was 5 percent of all truck freight. Refrigerated freight generates $14.3 billion in revenue annually, which is 1.9 percent of all truck revenue ($748.9 billion.)

The demand for refrigerated transportation has increased since 2014, according to ACT Research Co, a commercial vehicle transportation and research company. The growth can be attributed to several factors, including new federal food handling requirements that went into effect in March 2016, as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA.)

The primary driver of the demand, according to the ACT Research study, is the consumer demand for fresh food and eating out. Food service businesses and food carriers are scrambling to keep up with the demand. U.S. refrigerated trailers are scrambling to keep the pipeline full and transportation moving.

In 2014, a record 46,500 refrigerated trailers where shipped by U.S. manufacturers, which is the highest to date. Then, in 2016 46,000 reefer trailers were shipped, making it the second highest in refrigerated trailer sales.

ACT is projecting 43,000 refrigerating trailer units will be sold in 2017. Refrigerated trailer sales are expected to remain solid in the near future. In addition to food, the refrigerated transport market includes electronics, pharmaceuticals and ammunition, which are shipped in refrigerated trailers.

Cline Wood represents top trucking insurance carriers across the country. To learn more about the issues that concern commercial truck carriers today, trucking insurance coverage and risk management, contact us 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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