When it comes to personal property, farmers and rural landowners have a lot at stake.
You have thousands of dollars — maybe even millions — invested in equipment, vehicles and your farm buildings. But there’s also less visible personal property, like computer software, your financial records, your personal belongings and even your identity.
These things can easily become susceptible to theft, or natural disaster. In February, Farm and Dairy listened to two presentations about what farmers can do to better protect their personal assets, and thought we’d share some of the advice we heard from Coshocton County Sheriff Tim Rogers, and Ben Peetz, agribusiness risk control consultant with FCCI Insurance Group.
1Plan for the unexpected
“You are going to have something go wrong. Are you going to be ready for it,” said Peetz.
While there are countless ways that things can go wrong, you can usually predict some of the most likely issues. Review your operation and know where you have the greatest risk, whether it be fire, theft, injury or equipment malfunction.
2Map your property
You know your way around your place pretty well, but fire or rescue personnel might not. Keep a good inventory of where your equipment is located, know where your pesticides and chemicals are stored, and be sure things are labeled in a way that your employees can understand. Share the map of your property with local emergency personnel, and invite them to your farm so they know where the biggest risks are located.
Also, be sure your farm’s address number is posted and visible from the road. This can make a big difference when emergency personnel are trying to find your farm.
3Use locks and gates
Securing doors and entrances with locks and gates is one of the easiest and least costly things you can do. While locks and gates can be overcome, it’s one more deterrent that can make the difference.
“They’re (thieves) going to have to make the effort, and a lot of our thieves … don’t have the ambition to make the effort,” said Sheriff Rogers.
4Lock your locks, and keep the keys
A lock is only good if it works, and when it’s in use. Keys left in the farm truck, or even the tractor, is asking for trouble. You may need to periodically change your locks and keys, if you’ve terminated an employee, etc.
5Have a plan, and a second plan
When something goes wrong, does each employee or family member know what to do? Are certain employees expected to help, or are they expected to stay away, and tell someone else? If a piece of equipment malfunctions, or you lose a particular facility, what is plan B?
Sources: Coshocton County Sheriff Tim Rogers, who spoke during a farmers’ breakfast Feb. 14; and Ben Peetz, agribusiness risk control consultant, who spoke during the Ohio AgriBusiness Association conference Feb. 1 in Columbus.
Next week: Farm and Dairy will provide additional steps you can take to make sure your farm property is safe and secure.
(Farm and Dairy is featuring a series of “101” columns throughout the year to help young and beginning farmers master farm living. From finances to management to machinery repair and animal care, farmers do it all.)
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