Does Farm Insurance Cover Damage To Crops In Storms?
Caeva O'Callaghan | May 12th, 2021
Less than ideal weather conditions can harm and even ruin a mature crop. But will your farm insurance help cover losses if you lose your crops?
Unfortunately, standard farm insurance will not cover damage to arable crops if they suffer in a storm. If your crops are blighted or destroyed by the weather, you cannot involve your farm insurance provider.
Crop damage as a fault of storms is a real and very damaging problem for farmers. As the countryside is battered by harsh weather, it’s important you know what you are and aren’t covered for in terms of insurance.
In this article, we’ll go over the following questions:
- Will farm insurance cover storm damage to my crops?
- Is my agricultural produce covered by farm insurance?
- How can I keep crops safe during a storm?
Being prepared ahead of time is the only way to help crops survive when a storm bears down on your land. To avoid huge losses and interruptions to the supply chain, it’s essential to know how your crops are protected.
Will my farm insurance cover storm damage to my crops?
Standard farm insurance does not cover storm damage to arable crops in Ireland, at least at the time of writing.
Maize is particularly vulnerable to storm damage, as it is taller and more fragile than low-lying crops like beans or barley. Some varieties withstand gales better than others, but a bad storm can still level acres of viable crops and set farmers back a pretty penny.
In 2018, stormy weather battered farmland across Meath, Louth and Dublin, flattening crops and reducing fields to barren, sodden spaces. With numerous farmers relying on the crops for feed, the impact of the storm was devastating.
In August 2020, a third of the annual apple crop was lost in storms that hammered the Irish countryside. It came at the worst time possible, as the ripening crop was heavy and therefore the trees were more susceptible to breakages and wind damage.
Introducing a crop insurance scheme is currently being debated in the agricultural industry. With unpredictable weather patterns worsening, this type of cover may be available in the future.
But for now, even in extreme cases, farm insurance can do nothing to cover the losses rural businesses face when a storm hits.
Is my agricultural produce covered by farm insurance?
Unlike crops, your agricultural produce will be covered under any standard farm insurance policy.
Insurance for your agricultural produce can be arranged for a wide range of perils, from flood, fire and spontaneous combustion. Farm insurance will also cover for produce in transit.
Grain in stacks, swaths or piles and the contents of pit or bunk silos will have cover, as will any crop or feed in storage.
Of course, your insurance will want to know that you have taken all necessary precautions to prevent damage to agricultural produce. Store your grain, seeds, feed and other supplies according to instruction – and never underestimate the consequences of not doing so.
For example, hot and humid weather can lead to hay overheating, which can cause it to spontaneously combust. If the hay crop is put into the mow above 20-25% moisture content, it will heat rapidly. If the mow is so large that heat loss is restricted, the internal temperature will rise and cause a chemical reaction which will produce flammable gases that will ignite on contact with oxygen.
Check your hay regularly. If you detect a slight caramel odour or a distinct musty smell, chances are your hay is heating.
How can I keep crops safe during a storm?
Not a lot can be done to protect 27 acres of corn when a storm is bearing down, but there are other measures you can take to ensure you minimise storm damage.
Investing in fabric coverings for short crops can help prevent damage to tender young leaves from raindrops. Adding sheets of plastic will let in light, yet protect against the damaging effects of high winds.
Mulching will slow flooding from rainfall and will also help to prevent soil and root damage during heavy storms. As a bonus, mulch helps control weeds and keeps your soil moist during high temperatures in summer.
To avoid soil erosion, maintain natural hedges as well as planting trees and shrubs. If you have any hills or raised areas around your crops, rainwater could flow down and drown or sweep away your crop.
Leaving crop residue – such as leaves and stalks – on the ground after harvesting, for as long as possible, acts as a mulch to stop the soil getting too heavily saturated.
All in all, which methods you use depend on the size of your farm as well as what techniques you can reasonably employ.
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All Information in this post is accurate as of the date of publishing.