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Is your farm insured properly for snowy conditions?
Due to the remote and exposed location of many farms, it is farmers who can sometimes be affected the worst by adverse weather.
Here's how the snow and stormy weather can impact farms, along with advice for farmers on what to do if their business has been interrupted as a result.
The weight of snow on farm buildings
The sheer weight of falling snow can cause the roofs of farm buildings and sheds to collapse, something which is particularly dangerous at Winter time given that valuable livestock, produce, machinery and tools are all being housed.
However, farmers should never attempt to climb onto building roofs in order to clear snow from them.
Falls are one of the main causes of farm workplace death and injury, and data from the HSENI claims that nearly 30% of all farming fatalities are as a result of either falling from height or being struck by falling objects.
Not only will the physical weight of snow put extra stress on buildings and sheds, the bitter temperatures can make roofs more fragile and prone to collapse. The HSENI also says that snow, sleet and hail can cover up windows, gaps or weak areas in roofing which farmers could accidentally fall through.
Although problems like this can be difficult to predict, it's important that farmers take steps throughout the year to ensure that all buildings are well maintained and structurally sound.
It's also absolutely vital to check that the current level of insurance cover is appropriate, so in the event that something does go wrong farmers can be reimbursed for the proper amount.
Dairy farms are particularly vulnerable to adverse weather conditions as heavy snow and ice may prevent collection of milk from the farm due to blocked laneways.
As milk cannot be stored on farm for more than 48 hours, farmers may be faced with dumping milk into slurry tanks and therefore suffer a financial loss.
Cover is available to protect against losses due to uncollected milk.
Most livestock losses caused by severe weather conditions are mainly from smaller animals like sheep suffocating under large snow drifts when roaming on upland hills.
Not only can this be emotionally distressing for farmers, it's also worrying financially. Generally speaking, there is no 'standard' insurance cover for events like this either, so it's vitally important that farmers check their insurance policies to know what they're covered for and what they aren't.
The snow, wind and cold weather can in some cases weak or destroy boundary fences, meaning that there's an increased risk of livestock escaping from their fields and straying onto third party or public land.
Particularly if farms are located close to public roads and highways, the effects can be devastating. Sheep or cattle that roam onto public roads can lead to car accidents in addition to the loss of the animals themselves.
Such incidents can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds or more, so having appropriate Public Liability Insurance is an absolute must for farmers to avoid being personally liable for the costs.
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