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Keep Your Rural Roads Safe


The following information is provided by Nationwide, the #1 farm and ranch writer in the U.S.*

Safely navigating large agricultural equipment over rural roads to and from the fields is a challenge for even the best drivers. Nationwide reminds farmers to consider the following rules on the safe operation of equipment to help reduce the risk of motor vehicle collisions.


Courts uphold agricultural equipment operator rights for road usage, and regulations for size and type usually don’t apply. But still take necessary precautions to prevent serious injury and damage and ensure that your equipment isn’t in violation. You know accidents can happen any time of day, but remember:

  • Working after dark: Turn on lights, use reflectors or conspicuity tape, display SMV (slow-moving vehicle) sign, consider escort vehicles
  • Trailer pulling: Don’t rely on power unit lights only; this increases collision risk if lights become obstructed
  • “Road rules”: Operators must understand driving hazards; regulations include specific training for equipment operation and environment navigation


Left Turns

Operators tend to pull to the right when making wide left turns. Motorists may view this as permission to pass. To prevent accidents:

  • Use turn signals or hand/arm signals
  • Check oncoming traffic
  • Check mirrors and blind spots


Before crossing rural bridges:

  • Ensure appropriate vehicle weight
  • Allow oncoming traffic to clear the bridge (reduces weight on bridge and provides you space to maneuver)
  • If tires have large lugs for traction, be cautious of guardrail contact that could inadvertently cause equipment to climb the rail or tip off the bridge
Passing cars

When driving a slow-moving vehicle, never wave a driver to pass. It’s the passing driver’s responsibility to pass – not yours. Also:

  • Don’t drive on the shoulder; you may sideswipe a passing vehicle if you have to swerve to avoid an oncoming mailbox or obstruction
  • Drive with the left side of your vehicle to the centerline, even if your equipment extends onto the shoulder; passing drivers should consider safety and the law before passing


Rear-end collisions

Rural road travelers can easily be surprised by a large, slow-moving vehicle — and misjudge their speed and gap distance. To avoid rear-end collisions:

  • Monitor mirrors for fast-approaching vehicles
  • Ensure that the vehicle’s warning devices, such as SMV signs, are visible
  • Consider vehicle escorts on heavily traveled paved roads


For more farm safety tips, contact your local Nationwide farm agent or visit mynsightonline.com.  

*A.M. Best Market Share Report 2019. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and Nationwide is on your side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.© 2021 Nationwide.

How to Prevent Combine Fires

How to prevent combine fires

The following information is provided by Nationwide®, the #1 farm and ranch insurer in the U.S.*

Large machinery fires —including those on and in farm combines and harvesters —cause around $20 million in property losses, untold millions in lost productivity and up to 50 serious personal injuries every year. But they can be prevented with attention to the three components of farm combine fire safety.

“Think in terms of how important prevention, detection and suppression all are to keeping your farm operation in business,” said Nationwide Agribusiness Business Development Director Kelly Grummert. “The whole goal of all three components of combine fire safety is to prevent machinery loss, protect the operator and ensure they all go home to their families every night.”

Inspect your combine harvester to minimize fire risk

Attention to fire safety starts well before a farm combine or harvester wheel turns. It starts at the farm shop or wherever a machine is stored year-round. Add the following to your routine post-harvest maintenance inspections to minimize fire risks:

  • Clean crop residue or engine fluids like fuel or grease around the machine that could easily ignite in the presence of an external heat source.
  • Clear plant material from bearings, belts and other potentially heat-generating components.
  • Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance and lubrication prior to storing your harvester for a long period of time, paying close attention for potential leaks in hoses or fittings.
  • Make sure your machine is stored away from external heat sources like furnaces or other heating elements that can lead to fire.


Monitor equipment for excessive heat

Fast forward a few months to harvest; once ready to hit the field, that’s when your farm combine or harvester safety should broaden to include fire detection and notification.
Advancing sensor technology available today can monitor heat generated around key components to ensure they’re within operating temperature ranges and aren’t creating enhanced fire risk.
“If it’s getting too hot, it will alert the farmer so he or she can take quick action to prevent that overheating from developing into a fire,” Grummert said. “We’re looking at sensors like these as ways to cut down significantly on harvester losses and the risks they create for the machine’s operator. This technology is helping us become better at fire detection when a machine is running in the field at harvest.”
Thermal imaging can also help with fire detection. Because equipment can show problems in the form of excessive heat before they fail, early identification of anomalies is a critical step in preventing possible combine fires.

Equip your combine with fire extinguishers

A combine or harvester can go up in flames ina matter of minutes. If you’ve detected an overheating component or small fire early on, you can still take action to prevent it from engulfing the machine. Make sure you have fire extinguishers both in the cab as well as near likely trouble spots around the machine so you can take quick action. And make sure they’re inspected and in working order at all times.

“The whole goal of prevention, detection and suppression on these machines is to avoid the loss, protect the operator and ensure no one is hurt orworse,” Grummert said. “We want to help farmers prevent these losses so they’re safe, don’t experience interruptions at harvest and can keep trucking along in a hugely important time for most operations.”
Visit AgInsightCenter.com for more tips and information to help you navigate the changing agricultural landscape, run a successful business and maintain the safety of your farm operation.
*A.M. Best Market Share Report 2019. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and Nationwide is on your side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.© 2021 Nationwide.

3 questions to ask before lending farm & ag equipment to neighbors

3 questions to ask before lending farm & ag equipment to neighbors

The following information is provided by Nationwide®, the #1 farm and ranch insurer in the U.S.*

When her husband Mike passed away in 2020, Jolene Palmer was faced with the task of harvesting the Fairfax, Minnesota, farm family’s corn crop —but she wasn’t alone.

Neighboring farmers eagerly volunteered their time and equipment —58 people, 12 combines, 12 grain carts and 28 semis, to be exact —to help her get the crop in the bin.

“In a total of 15 hours, they harvested 1,100 acres. It really was a true effort,” Palmer said.“It went so smoothly. It was just a huge accomplishment and it really made everybody feel good.”Farmers are well known for helping each other in times of need. Lending equipment or a helping hand to neighbors often takes place without a second thought. But like anything in farming, it’s crucial to do proper planning –weighing any safety, liability and insurance considerations.

Before lending farm & ag equipment, consider this scenario

Say your neighbor rolls over your lent tractor, which is one of the most common accidents in farming. Could you be liable for injuries? Will damages to the tractor be covered under your insurance policy?

Change your production systems

Nationwide’s AVP of Risk Management, Jason Berkland, recommends farmers stop and ask themselves three important questions before lending equipment to assist neighbors, including: 

  1. Does my policy extend coverage for rented or lent equipment? Before donating equipment or machinery to help out, confirm any coverage for that equipment with your farm insurance agent.
  2. Is the piece of equipment in good working order? Make sure any machinery or equipment you are lending is well-maintained. That includes having all safety equipment like guards or locks installed and in working order. For additional information on mobile equipment safety, consider our mobile equipment safety training program.
  3. Does the person borrowing the equipment have the experience and ability to run the equipment safely? Confirm who will be operating the equipment and that they have the necessary experience. Also conduct a walk-around together to point out safety features, worn parts and areas to watch while using the equipment. 

Change your production systems

As the #1 farm insurer in the U.S.1, Nationwide has been helping farmers in need for nearly a century –so we get it. We just want to make sure that when farmers help other farmers, safeguards are in place to help protect those involved.

Contact your local Nationwide Farm Certified agent to learn more about the risks of lending farm equipment and to confirm you have the proper coverage. This way, you can be confident in helping your neighbors.

*A.M. Best Market Share Report 2020. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and Nationwide is on your side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2021 Nationwide

Tips to help overcome farm labor shortages

Tips to help overcome farm labor shortages

The following information is provided by Nationwide®, the #1 farm and ranch insurer in the U.S.*

Farm labor is a big challenge for many U.S. farmers. Factors like COVID-19 pandemic disruptions have complicated the farm labor issue.

Over half the farmers responding to a recent Purdue University survey say they’ve faced labor shortages in the last two years. Many say they’ve also had difficulty maintaining adequate qualified workforces.

“In 2021, nearly two thirds of respondents said they either had ‘some’ or ‘a lot of difficulty’ in hiring adequate labor compared to just three out of 10 respondents in 2020,” according to the July 2021 update of the Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture Ag Economy Barometer report.

Strategies to help maintain peak productivity with the current farm worker shortage:

  1. Explore alternate equipment

If you raise row crops, there may be machinery and equipment that can help you stretch existing labor or replace it altogether. Larger implements, for example, can help you get as much done in the field with fewer workers.

  1. Change your production systems

Switching from conventional tillage to no-till, for example, can cut down on your field operations and required laborers to operate the required machinery.

  1. Think seasonally

You may be able to hire temporary seasonal workers when year-round, full-time employees are in short supply. Doing so can also help cut your overall labor costs.

  1. Explore new technology

Tools like autonomous machinery, drones, telematics and precision ag technology may not completely offset human labor. But they may help you better utilize available (or seasonable) labor. That’s true even if those workers aren’t experienced with running large equipment.

  1. Work with outside labor

Some field operations can be conducted by contract operators like custom applicators or harvest crews. If the cost is justifiable, doing so might mean you don’t have to maintain own labor force year-round.

  1. Offer incentives for current and new workers

Providing benefits like retirement savings options can help retain and attract labor. A financial planner or human relations specialist can help identify the best options for your farm.

Don’t try to solve your agriculture labor shortages alone

Work with your agronomist, lender and other farm stakeholders to identify the changes that will work best on your farm. And check with your Nationwide Farm Certified agent to make sure you have the right coverage options for any major changes to overcome your farm labor challenges.

Visit AgInsightCenter.com for expert tips and information from Nationwide to help you navigate the changing agricultural landscape, run a successful business and maintain the safety of your farm operation.

*A.M. Best Market Share Report 2020. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and Nationwide is on your side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2021 Nationwide

Help prevent dairy farm chemical contamination with these tips

Help prevent dairy farm chemical contamination with these tips

The following information is provided by Nationwide®, the #1 farm and ranch insurer in the U.S.*

Chemicals keep equipment clean and animals healthy on many modern dairy farms. But when mishandled, they can cause problems for farmers and their cows. Dairy cross-contamination can also cause health problems for milk consumers.
In general, consider these steps to help keep chemicals out of your milk:
  • Monitor and document chemical use
  • Follow label instructions and dairy best management practices
  • Conduct regular, frequent inspections of farms and animals
  • Train workers to properly handle and administer chemicals
  • Update protocols regularly based on chemicals used


“All workers should be trained. Include education on chemical usage,documentation and proper storage and application,” said Nationwide Agribusiness Senior Risk Management Consultant Lance Reeve. “When a new chemical is introduced, train workers on potential hazards. Account for any special handling requirements and ways to prevent exposure.”

Minimize antibiotic risks
Dairy antibiotics help keep cows healthy and productive. But every farmer must make sure milk is free of even a trace of them before it leaves the farm. Work with a veterinarian and keep detailed records on specific products, their doses and when they’re given. Many antibiotics have labeled withdrawal periods. Observe those times to help keep them out of the consumer dairy supply chain.
“Review records regularly with a veterinarian who visits the farm,” Reeve said. “All farm workers need to know the importance of following protocols for antibiotic use. This training is vital to preventing cross-contamination.”
Build a chemical control program
There are a lot of other chemicals used on dairy farms. Account for the following product types in a chemical control program for your farm:
  • Cleaners
  • Sanitizers
  • Lubricants
  • Other animal treatments and medications

Your program should include how to take care of potential chemical residues in animals, barns and on equipment. Follow all specific product label instructions or warnings about cross-contamination and safe handling. Finally, have a plan for how you will eliminate those residues.

“Ensure you are appropriately managing all chemicals to protect employees and milk,” Reeve said. “For example, many cleaners are concentrated. If you dilute one before using, follow label instructions. Then, verify and document those steps.”
Don’t take shortcuts
It’s sometimes tough to resist the urge to do things like reuse containers, for example. Doing so can cause exposure even when all other protocols are followed.
A part of managing chemicals on a dairy farm is managing your workforce. Make sure only your workers and other approved personnel are allowed on the farm. Store chemicals securely and allow only trained, authorized workers access to them.
“Every worker on the farm needs to know mishandling chemicals creates a risk to themselves and the milk,” Reeve said. “All workers need general chemical training and education on protocols like safe storage and prohibited uses of unapproved chemicals.”
Visit AgInsightCenter.com for more expert tips and information from Nationwide.
*A.M. Best Market Share Report 2020.
The information was obtained from sources believed to be reliable.Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and its employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with any training, materials, suggestions or information provided. It is the user’s responsibility to confirm compliance with any applicable local, state or federal regulations. Information obtained from or via Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company should not be used as the basis for legal advice or other advice but should be confirmed with alternative sources.Nationwide, the Nationwide Nand Eagle, and Nationwide is on your side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.© 2021 Nationwide
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