Protecting your farm personal property: A crisis averted
The loss of farm personal property due to disaster or theft can result in significant replacement and lost opportunity costs. Farm personal property typically includes items such as tack, barn supplies, farm machinery as well as the farm office equipment like computers, phones, furniture, and a variety of other tangible assets that are a part of your agricultural business.
Loss control strategies are as numerous as the potential events that can cause the loss. Following are some key guidelines to consider:
- Keep a current inventory of your farm personal property.
Maintain receipts, serial numbers, and manufacturer’s information for easy identification in the event an item becomes damaged or stolen. Consider taking pictures or a video of your tack room or equipment inventory and store in a secure, off-site location. If you need to file a claim, this will facilitate the process and aid in the recovery of stolen items.
- Protect your electronic equipment.
All electrical equipment, including data line connections, should be plugged into surge protectors. Without them, power surges can damage equipment and create unwanted downtime. It is important to install surge protectors properly. Keep cable lengths short and straight, and push plugs completely into sockets. Some surge protectors have indicators to show the circuit is grounded and operating properly. Consult with a licensed electrician to ensure that your electrical distribution system is grounded correctly.
Place computers, telephone switchboards, and other sensitive electronics above ground level, and utilize dust covers for protection, especially in stables and other AG buildings. If you own a laptop, invest in computer tracking technology to assist in recovery, should it be stolen. A loss of this equipment can quickly create a crisis.
- Maintain your facility’s equipment.
Inspect equipment frequently and follow maintenance practices according to manufacturer’s guidelines. Keeping a maintenance log will help ensure the safety and longevity of your equipment. Daily, weekly and monthly activities in the log help to ensure processes are not overlooked; as with most farm operations can vary from grease and oil for the tractor and checking tire pressure to cleaning and inspection of tack.
- Safeguard vital records.
Properly preserving your records makes it easier to get you up and running after an emergency. Vital records may include financial and insurance information, employee files, registration papers and vet records and horse owners/boarders contact information.
- Store records in a secured location.
Vital records should be kept in a secured, fire-rated file cabinet or safe. Store critical electronic files and equipment in areas where they can be quickly evacuated, along with staff in the event of an emergency. You can easily save critical information on a compact disc or external storage device for easy retrieval. Also, ship your data to off-site locations or storage facilities located away from coastal areas and flood plains. With technology today, you can now store vital records off-site with a data warehouse or other electronic media formats.
- Establish and practice a crisis management plan.
Assign specific responsibilities to staff members so there is no confusion about who should evacuate employees, animals, records, and crucial farm equipment. Well posted and reviewed plans can greatly reduce the severity of a loss. Having a backup plan is an essential part of the crisis plan, especially when critical
personnel are out at the time of a catastrophe. Know ahead of time what you need to take with you in an emergency. Identify alternate power sources and evaluate temporary facilities, transportation options and emergency supply vendors for feed & medications.
According to the Insurance Institute of America, the following information is most often included in a crisis management procedures plan:
- The purpose, scope, and organization of the plan.
- The structure of the crisis management hierarchy, including the chain of command, composition, and general responsibilities of the emergency teams appointed.
- Evacuation instructions, including explanations of alarm signals and diagrams of exit routes. Alternative facilities/pastures for livestock or equipment.
- Loss prevention and loss reduction procedures organized by peril (natural, human, or economic) and separated into pre- and post-event measures.
- Procedures, addresses, and telephone numbers for contacting the fire department, police, medical services, Vets/Farriers, transportation, pollution-control personnel, and other sources of help.
- Communication procedures during and after the emergency, especially procedures for employees and clients, including; owners, boarders, students and vendors.
The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.