Showing posts from tagged with: agribusiness liability

3 Farmers Facing Jail Time for Crop Insurance Fraud

Posted December 13, 2018 by Administrator

Tobacco Fraud Nets 60 Months Jail Time

Crop insurance fraud carries heavy penalties including steep fines and jail time. However, these deterrents don’t always work as intended. Crop insurance fraud comes in a variety of forms, and the following cases highlight some of the potential abuses.

Debra Muse of Willingford, Kentucky pleaded guilty to fraud on April 16, 2018. The judge sentenced her to 60 months of jail time as well as ordered her to pay $1,656,275 in restitution. She and several cohorts filed false claims with the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) in an attempt to obtain insurance money without actual cause.

They did so by falsifying tobacco production reports, bills,and shipping documents. As a result, they received inflated payments from their insurers who then sought recompense from the federal government. Under federal law, Muse will have to serve 85% of her sentence (51 months minimum) before she is eligible for release.

LaGrange Farmer Receives 25-Month Jail Sentence for Fraud

On May 30, 2018, a judge sentenced James Wiggins, Jr. of LaGrange, NC to 25 months of jail time and ordered him to pay $5,600,433 for several offenses including identity theft, conspiring to commit money laundering, and making false statements to the FCIC. Wiggins and his co-conspirators filed false insurance claims as well as disaster relief claims and then engaged in illegal activities to try to conceal the fraud. They filed false claims alleging they lost crops to receive an insurance payout while selling the healthy crops in secret transactions.

Farmer Faces up to 30 Years per False Statement

Though not yet scheduled, Christopher Hickerson, a farmer from Lexington, KY is facing a ten-count indictment for making false statements to the FCIC. Dating back as far as 2009, Hickerson falsified his tobacco production while simultaneously claiming a significant amount of damage. Hickerson laid claim to tobacco produced by other farmers to inflate his claims. He also obtained crop insurance under other individuals’ names to capitalize on new producer insurance bonuses. For every false statement made to the FCIC, Hickerson faces 30 years in prison as well as a fine of $1,000,000.

As outlined above, crop insurance fraud is not worth the cost. At Cline Wood, we dedicate our time to helping farmers and other agribusiness leaders understand their insurance needs. To learn more about the risks facing your farm as well as how to protect against them, 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.

Smart Agriculture and the Internet of Things (IoT)

Posted June 5, 2017 by Administrator

With the combination of both advanced technologies in hardware and software, the Internet of Things (IoT) is able to track and count almost everything, which can greatly reduce waste, cost and loss for agriculture operations. The IoT will transform the agriculture industry by enabling farmers to find solutions to their challenges faster and more effectively. Innovative applications can be designed to address complex issues and therefore increase the quality, quantity, sustainability and effectiveness of crop production.

Here are some breakthrough examples where agricultural businesses are using the IoT in innovative ways:

  • A cutting-edge greenhouse operation uses the Waspmote Plug and Sense IoT Vertical Kit air quality application. Sensor probes are installed a various points to measure identified parameters. The system is programmed and connected to an XBee network with star topology. Two of the sensor modes send the extracted data to the central node at 15 minute intervals. The data is sent via 3G to a server and stored in an internal memory. The information is then visualized through its web interface. Users can take action by controlling the irrigation system through the web.
  • A farming operation is using the IoT to address its labor shortage. Limited by time, the farmers are unable to monitor and provide the required conditions for plants at certain times such as during the night or emergency conditions. To overcome the limitations of the irrigation system in conventional farming and maintain the crops in their optimum environment for growth in terms of soil moisture and temperature. The model of smart irrigation provides and maintains the optimum conditions for their crops. By growing their crops in an environment with sufficient water supply and ideal temperature, plant quality is improved and the productivity of the field is increased as well. Using electronic devices such as smartphones and remote computers, users can log into the Cloud storage to extract sensor data. Users can monitor the crops and control the water pumps and fans using the control panel of the user interface, which does not have to be located at the farm. Also, being able to supply the water directly to the root of the plant prevents weeds from growing, reducing the need for farm hands to help with weeding. Soil temperature also plays a major role in plant health. Being able to use sensors to measure the soil temperature and remotely switch on fans that will reduce overly heated soil will help keep roots moist and retain nutrients.
  • A small, urban farmer looking for a reliable, innovative solution worked with an IoT platform partner to develop a modular, scalable farm operation. Together, they designed a hydroponic farming model that operates inside of an atmospherically-controlled shipping container that allows for year-round growing to provide local, urban environments with produce 365 days a year. They use a connected product management tool to provide more usability and access in how they interact with the farm. A big advantage of the connectivity platform is in the data collection that indicates how well the freight farms are performing, including optimal conditions, various crops and best practices. The data is being used to help farmers proactively prevent problems and troubleshoot to improve quality control.

By providing and maintaining the ideal environment for the growth of crops using innovative applications of IoT, the productivity of crops can be increased and the goal of ensuring adequate food supplies to feed the estimated human population of 9 billion people by the year 2050 will be achieved.

 

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.

Feds to Hold Livestock Haulers Responsible for Inhumane Treatment of Animals

Posted October 12, 2016 by Administrator

livestock imageIn an unprecedented ruling, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service has announced a new proposed policy that would hold livestock transporters responsible for the mistreatment of the animals they carry. The new rule would allow civil or criminal action to be taken against instances of animal abuse related to animals with a connection to an official slaughterhouse establishment.

The current law holds farm owners and slaughterhouses solely responsible for the care of animals in conjunction with slaughter. This policy proposal is the first time that carriers will be held accountable for the handling of the livestock they are hired to transport. This is significant because many of the truck carriers are not employed by either the farmers or the slaughterhouses and are therefore exempt from the current law. Policymakers hope that the new policy will improve the welfare of livestock during transport.

One major change policymakers have explicitly included in the proposed rule is that speeding while transporting livestock will be considered inhumane treatment. Speeding while hauling animals bound for slaughter has been known to result in the animals slipping and becoming injured due to falls. Under the proposed new ruling, FSIS can investigate and find the transportation professional liable. The FSIS believes the new ruling will improve conditions for livestock bound for slaughter by making sure the proper procedures for hauling will be enforced.

The official notice will be published in the Federal Register. The proposed policy will go into effect in 90 days unless public comment calls for a revision of the ruling. At Cline Wood we represent top agribusiness insurance carriers across the country with access to all types of insurance programs. We treat your company as if it were our own. Our goal is to go beyond simply providing you with affordable insurance. Contact us today to find out how we can help you manage your risk, which directly contributes to your bottom line.

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