[Market-farming] another insurance question

KAKerby at aol.com KAKerby at aol.com
Fri Mar 8 11:22:05 EST 2013

I sent through a reply this morning but it doesn't seem to have gone  
through.  I'll try again, but here's an advance apology if things go  through 
You are correct that we did have  a lot up in the air earlier this year; 
I'm happy to report most of those  questions have now been answered.   
However, I don't think that's the  issue.  And this goes way beyond meat 
production, and way beyond local  regulations.  Some other activities which are 
specifically listed as  reasons to deny a policy:
on-farm grain  drying
any kind of fruit juice, unless  it's pasteurized
repair of machinery for a fee  (for instance, if folks repair farm 
implements for other folks during the  winter)horseback riding lessons, horse 
training for others, and/or horse  boarding

In addition to the above, sometimes a product or activity is  allowed, but 
only if I followed the insurance company's procedure.  So I can do turkeys 
and chicken, but only if the birds leave the  property for slaughtering and 
don't come back.  That's in direct conflict  with state law, for any state 
with on-farm small-scale slaughter  exemptions.  Similarly, I can do grains, 
but only if the grains  leave the property right after harvest to be dried 
off-site.  That rules  out any sort of on-farm value-added processing; it may 
also rule out drying  and storage for our own use.  I can do hay, as long as 
the bales are  stored in the field.  If I wanted to store hay in a barn 
close to  the house, I'd have to exclude the barn from coverage.  If I wanted 
to  protect the barn, I'd have to find another place to cover/protect my hay. 
 I found myself wondering how many folks are going to be progressively  
excluded from more and more typical farm operations as they acquire or renew  
policies, because of these kinds of ever-tightening criteria.  

Since the FSMA is very heavy on procedural changes and verification, I  
found myself wondering if the next wave of insurance leverage would be (or  
might already be) to deny coverage if farms didn't follow certain  
insurance-company-mandated procedures with their veggie  handling.  If the kinds of 
discrepancies I've seen in meat  production are any indicator, insurance company 
procedures for fresh veggie  production won't match state/federal regs.  
Under that  scenario, folks will have to decide if they're going to comply 
with FSMA, or  be insured.  My concern is that they won't be able to do both.

If this isn't an issue yet with fresh produce, that's good news at least  
in the short term.  But the list of excluded activities is getting longer  by 
the day.  I can't imagine fresh produce is going to escape the  attention 
of the insurance industry for very long.  I suggest folks  keep an eye out 
for these developments.  I'd also suggest folks who  already have insurance, 
check to see what might have recently been excluded  from coverage under a 
general umbrella policy.  For each of these  specifically excluded items, we 
can get additional policies just for those  items.  But of course at 
additional, and sometimes much higher cost.  That's where I think this is going.  
Individual itemized coverage  for each type of farm activity, and the small 
guy will be priced out of the  market.  I hope I'm proven wrong.
Kathryn Kerby
Snohomish, WA

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