Tag: nationwide

58 fire departments nationwide win life-saving grain rescue equipment

58 fire departments nationwide win life-saving grain rescue equipment
Nationwide’s Grain Bin Safety campaign has awarded 265 rescue tubes across 31 states to first responders in need since 2014

Des Moines, IA. (June 21, 2022) — Grain bin accidents send shockwaves through rural communities as farmers and grain handlers know all too well how quickly entering a grain bin can turn deadly. To help prevent these accidents that result in dozens of lives lost each year, Nationwide is providing lifesaving resources to rural America’s first responders.

In partnership with the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS), Nationwide is awarding 58 fire departments across the country with grain rescue tubes and hands-on training to prepare them to respond when local grain entrapments occur.

After receiving more than 1,800 nominations across 45 states in the annual Nominate Your Fire Department Contest, a key piece of Nationwide’s Grain Bin Safety advocacy campaign, the insurer and its partners are proud to award grain rescue tubes and training to the following 58 fire departments:

  1. Allegany County Special Operations, Cumberland, MD
  2. Argusville Fire Department, Argusville, ND
  3. Ashley Fire Department, Ashley, IN
  4. Ashley Fire Protection District, Ashley, IL
  5. Atalissa Volunteer Fire Department, Atalissa, IA
  6. Baring Volunteer Fire Department, Baring, MO
  7. Bel Alton Volunteer Fire Department and EMS Co 10, Bel Alton, MD
  8. Bennet Rural Fire District, Bennet, NE
  9. Brandon Fire Department, Brandon, IA
  10. Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association, Westminster, MD
  11. Central Ohio Joint Fire District, Centerburg, OH
  12. Clayton Fire Company, Clayton, DE
  13. Clear Spring Volunteer Fire Company, Clear Spring, MD
  14. Cordova Fire Protection District, Cordova, IL
  15. Covington Fire & Rescue, Inc., Covington, OH
  16. Jefferson County Department of Emergency Services, Brookville, PA
  17. Dwight Rural Fire Department 6, Dwight, KS
  18. Elderton District Volunteer Fire Company, Elderton, PA
  19. Fleetwood Volunteer Fire Company, Fleetwood, PA
  20. Genoa Fire Department, Genoa, NY
  21. Georgetown Fire Company, Inc. Station 77, Georgetown, DE
  22. Hamlet Fire Department, Hamlet, IN
  23. Hebron Volunteer Fire Department, Hebron, MD
  24. Highland Pierron Fire Department, Pocahontas, IL
  25. Hillsboro Fire and Rescue, Hillsboro, IA
  26. Huntingburg Fire Department, Huntingburg, IN
  27. Illiopolis Fire Protection District, Illiopolis, IL
  28. Jefferson Township Fire and Rescue, Richmond Dale, OH
  29. Kenockee Township Fire Department, Avoca, MI
  30. Kinmundy-Alma Fire Department, Kinmundy, IL
  31. Lake Andes Volunteer Fire Department, Lake Andes, SD
  32. Lawrence Volunteer Fire Department & Rescue Service, Lawrence, NE
  33. Leonardtown Volunteer Fire Department, Leonardtown, MD
  34. Mabel Fire and Rescue, Mabel, MN
  35. Maeystown Fire Department, Maeystown, IL
  36. Mechanicsville Volunteer Fire District, Mechanicsville, MD
  37. Milo Rural Fire Department, Milo, MO
  38. Oakley Fire Department, Oakley, KS
  39. Ohiowa Rural Fire Department, Ohiowa, NE
  40. Ottawa County Rural Fire District #4, Bennington, KS
  41. Pleasant Unity Volunteer Fire Department, Pleasant Unity, PA
  42. Preston Volunteer Fire Company, Preston, MD
  43. Ripley Township Volunteer Fire Department, Alamo, IN
  44. Rome Fire Department, Rome, OH
  45. Saint Paul Mission Township Fire Department, Saint Paul, KS
  46. Scott Township Fire and EMS, Evansville, IN
  47. Seaford Volunteer Fire Department, Seaford, DE
  48. Silvercreek Township Fire Department, Jamestown, OH
  49. Spring Valley Fire Department, Spring Valley, WI
  50. Upham Fire Protection District, Upham, ND
  51. Watertown Township Fire Department, Mayville, MI
  52. Waubay Volunteer Fire Department, Waubay, SD
  53. West Kittanning Fire Department, Kittanning, PA
  54. West Plains Fire Department, West Plains, MO
  55. Westport Community Volunteer Fire Department, Westport, IN
  56. Williamsburg Volunteer Fire Company, Williamsburg, PA
  57. Windsor Fire Department, Windsor, OH
  58. Wood Lake Fire Department, Wood Lake, MN
  59. Audubon Fire Department (re-training only), Audubon, IA
  60. Guthrie Center Fire Department (re-training only), Guthrie Center, IA
  61. Hutchinson Fire Department (re-training only), Hutchinson, MN
  62. Johnston Grimes Metropolitan Fire Department (re-training only), Johnston, IA
  63. Superior Ambulance Service & Training Institute (re-training only), Grove City, PA
  64. Traer Fire Department (re-training only), Traer, IA

“We are proud to provide first responders the education and resources to lead the fight against local grain bin entrapments,” said Brad Liggett, president of Agribusiness at Nationwide. “It’s been our mission to bring an end to this industry issue by raising awareness of the dangers and suppling needed equipment to the front line rescuers tasked with responding when accidents occur.”

NECAS, based out of Peosta, IA, will deliver the rescue tubes and training to the winning fire departments throughout 2022, traveling to each location with state-of-the-art grain entrapment simulators and rescue tubes. The comprehensive training sessions include classroom education and rescue simulations using the entrapment tools, which are loaded onto 20-foot trailers and able to hold about 100 bushels of grain each.

With 2022 donations included, Nationwide and partners have supplied these resources to 265 departments across 31 states. At least five fire departments have utilized their rescue tubes and training to successfully rescue entrapped workers.

“It’s as important as ever to be following proper safety precautions when entering a bin,” said Liggett. “Our goal is to continue these efforts until we can ensure every rural fire department has access to these critical rescue resources.”

Nationwide is continuing to work with partners throughout 2022 to provide additional grain rescue tubes and training sessions to fire departments in need. To learn how to get involved and sponsor a rescue tube for your local fire department, visit the Partner With Us webpage.

“Thank you to our generous partners who have supported this cause to put an end to avoidable deaths in rural agricultural communities nationwide,” said Liggett.

The program is supported by Nationwide and the following generous partners:  

  1. KC Supply, NECAS, Indiana Corn Marketing Council, Maryland Grain Producers, Lutz Agency, Inc., Specialty Risk Insurance, CHS, Delaware Soybean Board, ProValue Insurance LLC, Mid Atlantic Farm Credit, Scoular Grain, Turtle Plastics, Mark Bruns Agency, Ashtabula County Farm Bureau, TGIF Solutions, Inc., Armstrong County Farm Bureau, Maryland Soybean Board, West Side Salvage, GROWMARK, AGI SureTrack, Gregerson Salvage, Inc., Maryland Farm Bureau, Ohio Farm Bureau, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, New York Farm Bureau, Delaware Farm Bureau, Kelly Jones Insurance Agency, LLC, Rugby Insurance Agency, Gerber Insurance Agency, Wiley Insurance Agency, Valley Insurance Agency Alliance, Jefferson County Farm Bureau, Panichelle Insurance, Colonial Farm Credit, Charles County Farm Bureau, St. Mary’s County Farm Bureau, Gallagher, Heritage Insurance & Real Estate, ABIS/Assured Partners, Ag Choice Farm Credit, D. Larson Financial & Insurance Services, Pillar Insurance, Sump Saver, NOHR Wortmann Engineering, IRMI, and Traer Fire Department.

About Nationwide
Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the United States. Nationwide is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. An industry leader in driving customer-focused innovation, Nationwide provides a full range of insurance and financial services products including auto, business, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Nationwide, Nationwide is on your side, the Nationwide N and Eagle are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2022

1 Source: A.M. Best Market Share Report 2021

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


Keep the farm protected with inflation guard coverage

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

There’s a lot happening around the world that’s applying downward pressure to revenue prospects for farmers. Inflation, logistical hurdles, rising energy and crop input prices at home and conflict overseas could all continue to contribute to the erosion of farm revenue potential.

But maximizing farm revenue requires investment. That investment is likely to come with some sticker shock this spring and beyond. The right insurance coverage can help.

Staying on top of your insurance coverage can help keep unexpected expenses like rising replacement costs from cutting potential farm revenue. A close eye on your coverage and a call to your agent can help make sure these costs don’t add to the financial pressure caused by inflation and other factors at home and abroad.

“All of these issues have a big impact on farm operational costs. We’re seeing higher prices for energy, machinery and many other inputs,” said Nationwide Senior Economist Ben Ayers. “It puts a lot of pressure on revenues many farmers are facing.”

Connecting with your agent is key  

During this time of uncertainty, Nationwide and your local Nationwide farm agent are working hard to help farmers maintain the right coverage levels without incurring too much additional cost. Now is time to talk with your agent.

“My immediate concern is making sure you have adequate coverage,” said Nationwide Associate Vice President for Agribusiness Regional Sales Nick McCleish. “We have to make sure the amount of insurance is keeping pace with rising costs.”

McCleish cites a recent example when a farmer had to replace a $75,000 grain cart. But at the time of replacement, the price for that grain cart had surged to $90,000. That meant the farmer paid the additional cost out-of-pocket. “Paying those types of increased costs become much more difficult if you don’t keep your policy updated,” McCleish said. 

Adding inflation guard coverage can help

The optional inflation guard coverage can help prevent such revenue losses by increasing dwelling and structure coverage limits at policy renewal. Also known as Construction Cost Adjustment, it helps to account for inflation in replacement or construction costs based on appraisals.

But inflation guard doesn’t always cover all additional costs. It’s important to have a good idea of costs for things like building materials and equipment ahead of time. Then match coverage levels to potential unexpected replacement or repair needs.

“Your insurance should not be a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ type of activity. Keep your agent up to speed on how your operation’s changing. Make sure you’re covered appropriately,” McCleish said. “Have an agent that understands your operation, and uniqueness of what you’re trying to do. Our Farm Certified agents serve that purpose.”

Visit AgInsightCenter.com for more expert tips and information from Nationwide. 

*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

Stay on top of key ag trends with the Ag Insight Center

Stay on top of key ag trends with the Ag Insight Center

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

Managing a successful farm or ranch today takes a lot of time and energy. And keeping up with evolving trends and the accelerating pace of innovation is no easy task.

As a way to help farmers and ranchers stay on top of the many issues they face — from day-to-day operations to operation-wide management — Nationwide launched the Ag Insight Center (AIC).

At AgInsightCenter.com, you’ll find resources, expert tips and timely, relevant content to help you stay in the know on the issues you face and solutions to the challenges of agriculture.

  • Safety and risk management resources to help you identify and reduce hazards, keep workers safe and protect assets
  • Business and operations resources to help you stay on top of industry trends, identify business opportunities and run a more profitable operation
  • Financial planning resources to help you make important financial decisions for your business and family
  • Insurance resources to help understand your needs and coverage options from Nationwide

Thought leadership from farm experts and industry leaders
As the #1 farm and ranch insurer in the U.S., Nationwide employs talented and experienced people from agricultural backgrounds –  many of whom are farm operators. The thought leadership content you will find on the AIC draws on the expertise and experience of a talented team of industry experts and ag professionals who know first-hand the pressures and challenges facing farmers and ranchers.

For example, Erin Cumings, Nationwide Sponsor Relations Senior Consultant, also raises cattle and farms in Warren County, Iowa. Erin shares with readers her 20 years of insurance experience, hands-on knowledge and expertise in farm safety and risk management and how fellow farmers can add value to their farming operations.   

Get content delivered to your inbox
We encourage everyone to subscribe to the AIC newsletter to get content delivered straight to their email inbox every other month. Each newsletter contains content on trending topics impacting farmers today. No matter where you are — in the field, office or farm shop — you always have quick access to valuable information that can help you manage your operation today and plan for tomorrow.

“The Ag Insight Center is symbolic of the Nationwide commitment to helping our customers thrive,” said Nationwide Ag Marketing Director Brad Snyder. “It’s a one-stop shop to keep farmers informed on the topics important to their businesses and families. And the AIC email newsletter gets you that information in a snap, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.” 

Visit AgInsightCenter.com to see the latest articles, videos and podcasts. While you’re there, sign up to receive our bimonthly AIC email newsletter.

*A.M. Best Market Share Report 2021.
Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and Nationwide is on your side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2022 Nationwide

Improving farm fuel economy with telematics in commercial agriculture

Improving farm fuel economy with telematics in commercial agriculture

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

A combination of factors from supply chain disruptions and inflation to conflicts around the world have shaken nerves in the oil market. The resulting higher fuel costs are a massive burden on large farming operations with large vehicle fleets.

There are a lot of things farmers can do to cut fuel bills. Telematics technology is on that list. Telematics offers a whole new toolbox to help keep fuel costs down through:

•Fuel-efficient operation
•Route optimization
•Proactive maintenance

“The ROI becomes clear immediately. Telematics is a way to create a cost benefit,” said Nationwide Agribusiness Senior Risk Management Consultant Brian Hammer. “Without it, you may miss out on an opportunity to manage day-to-day costs.”

Monitor operator behavior
The first way telematics streamlines fuel use is by monitoring operator behavior. This can help you ensure drivers aren’t wasting fuel. Things like excessive idling and driving at high speeds can cut fuel economy drastically.

Excessive idling is just one of the driver behaviors telematics can help you monitor. “It’s important to know you can supervise operators even when you’re not there. Telematics helps you do that,” Hammer said. “How an operator treats a piece of machinery translates directly to how much you spend on fuel.” 

Manage route optimization
Without telematics, it’s tough enough to know the location of every truck and machine you operate, let alone optimize travel to minimize fuel use. With it, you can do both. Effective route optimization can save you a lot on fuel.

“Telematics helps you manage route optimization by confirming your trucks are in the right places and taking the shortest, most efficient routes,” Hammer said. “Optimizing your routes is a great way to save on fuel costs. Telematics makes that much easier to do today.”

Maintain performance and efficiency
Telematic data reveals performance and efficiency trends over time. By acting on some of the specific data telematic tools gather —tire pressure, for example —you can lower fuel and maintenance costs over time.

“If you’re not maintaining the right pressure, you lose fuel efficiency in the short term and can shorten the life of your tires in the long term. Telematics helps you plan ahead for replacement, avoid unexpected interruptions and maximize fuel efficiency,” Hammer said. “Keeping an eye on things like this can keep your costs down, both with fuel economy and maintenance.”

Get started with telematics today
Nationwide has partnered with Razor Tracking, a leader in real-time telematics and dashboard camera solutions. Nationwide farm policyholders receive preferred pricing on Razor’s devices and subscription fees. Email nationwide@razortracking.comto connect with a Razor Tracking representative and learn how this technology is right for your business.

Visit AgInsightCenter.com for expert tips and information from Nationwide for your farm or ranch.

*A.M. Best Market Share Report 2021.
Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and Nationwide is on your side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2022 Nationwide

Benefits and risks of adding agritourism to your farm or ranch

Benefits and risks of adding agritourism to your farm or ranch

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

Agritourism is a great way to capitalize on the natural draw of your landscape, connect non-farm families to agriculture and create new revenue streams for your operation. But these benefits are not without risk.

Finding the right agritourism for operation
Adding a new agritourism venture to your operation starts by answering a simple question: What will work best? Consider the following:

  • Your land, what you raise and any other resources that could contribute to a new attraction
  • The time and money you can invest in an agritourism venture
  • Potential hazards to visitors, the liability they create for you and how you’ll mitigate the risks and keep people safe

Agritourism examples to consider

  • Pumpkin patches and corn mazes. Fairly common around the country, they’re popular but can require a lot of time and labor.
  • Farm tours and hayrack rides. Also fairly common, opening your farm to the public for tours and offering services like hayrack rides provide up-close farm experience. They often vary widely on cost, supervision and risk exposure.
  • Bed & breakfasts. An unoccupied farm house or even a repurposed barn or other farm building offer farm guests distinctive overnight stays. Time and labor required are normally fairly high.
  • Experiences. Ranging from “U-Pick” farms and Christmas tree farms to barn rentals for events like weddings, these also can range widely in cost, supervision and risk exposure.
  • Classes. Weekly or monthly classes on things like jam- or bread-making can be an easy, low-cost option.

Minimizing the risks of agritourism
Before adding agritourism to your farm or ranch, think about the specific risks you and your visitors will face and how you’ll mitigate them. This includes simple things like trip and fall hazards all the way to specific risks around livestock, farm equipment and food safety. Conduct a thorough audit of these types of risks and start by taking steps to minimize the hazards they represent.

“Check with your state for any agritourism protective measures and talk to your insurance agent for guidance on mitigation measures and how you can expand your insurance coverage,” said Neal.

Talk with your insurance agent
Farmers who offer agritourism activities need to discuss their specific types of businesses with their insurance agent. Usually, the policy that provides liability for the farm business does not extend to liability from other profit-making activities, such as agritourism.

Your local Nationwide Farm Certified agent can help you identify risks, implement safe practices and confirm you have the right agritourism insurance in place. Nationwide offers liability coverages that can be written as a package, in conjunction with a farm policy, to cover your agritourism ventures.

Visit AgInsightCenter.com to see the latest articles, videos and podcasts. While you’re there, sign up to receive our bimonthly AIC email newsletter.

*A.M. Best Market Share Report 2021.
Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and Nationwide is on your side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2022 Nationwide

The Leavitts of Wilson Dowell Farms, Double J Stables, Diversify through Quality Forage

Nationwide Helps Protect this Conservation-Minded Family

When Jason Leavitt went to college, at the behest of his farming grandfather, he didn’t know at the time the lure that farming and returning to the farm would hold. Leavitt and his mother, Judy, not only continued the family’s farming legacy in Owings, Maryland, but have expanded on it. Along the way, Nationwide and agent Carrie Polk have been on their side to help this farm family that’s trying to leave the land better than they found it, all while providing quality products and (fun) services to customers.

Wilson Dowell Farms is a fourth-generation, 320-acre family farm in Calvert County. They raise pasture-raised meats and grass-fed beef, and practice rotational grazing. The Leavitts sell meat shares direct to consumers, with some cuts available for walk-in at the farm. Today, Leavitt and his wife, Kristen, manage the farm, while Judy oversees day-to-day operations and manages Double J Stables, a horse boarding operation, which is also located at Wilson Dowell Farms. 

“Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to work on the farm,” said Leavitt. “I enjoyed helping my grandfather cut tobacco, grind corn, feed cattle, move hay bales, fix fences, plow fields … it was more a series of fun activities than work. My grandfather always kind of tried to dissuade us and told us that we needed to go to school and learn something so that we would not have to “work” for a living. I don’t think that he meant work, per se, but maybe to avoid manual labor jobs.”

So that is exactly what he did. “It’s somewhat of a typical story, I think, when growing up we all wanted to get out and see the world,” said Leavitt. “Once I got out in the real world, it served to confirm how special the life was that we had growing up. After college, I decided to move back home, try to figure out a way to keep the farm viable, and, honestly, I was looking forward to the challenges that modern-day agricultural production presents.”

An Honor to Carry on the Family Legacy
The farm is named after Leavitt’s grandfather, Wilson Dowell, Jr. It began like most Southern Maryland farms: as a tobacco farm. While tobacco was the cash crop, Dowell always kept cattle on the farm. When the time came to transition out of tobacco, the foundation for a pasture-based livestock operation was already in place. Now the farm sells beef, pork, and goat.

Leavitt complemented his mother’s enterprise of horse stabling on their family’s land, by managing more production agriculture with a focus on beef production and high-quality forage.

“My great-grandfather bought the land for the farm where I now live in 1939,” he said. “He was a bit of a handyman and would buy fixer-uppers, get the farm in shape and then sell it for profit and move to the next farm. Eventually my great-grandmother had enough of moving and laid down the law to stay put. As the oldest son in a family of eight children, my grandfather took over the farming operation as his father aged. He raised primarily tobacco, small grains, and always had cattle. The cows were fenced in the woods and in fields that were too steep to cultivate.”

Leavitt continues, “When my grandfather passed in 1996, my mother assumed the family farming mantle. While I was still in college, she began a horse boarding business in addition to the cattle/hay operation and rented out our fields to a local farmer for his small grains operation. After college, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to be when I grew up, and after a couple of years decided to move back to the farm. Initially, I thought that boarding horses was going to be the sole answer in creating a sustainable farm business on our property. It was soon readily apparent that while boarding horses provides a decent supplementary income, it is not feasible or sustainable in its own right as the principal operation for us. We had to diversify, so we created both Double J Stables, LLC, and Wilson Dowell Farms, LLC, in 2010.”

Top Production Priorities on Wilson Dowell Farms
Leavitt said the most important aspect of their farm and its entities is growing premium, quality forage. Not only do the grasses provide feed for the horses and, more importantly, for their grass-fed beef, but they also protect the soil.

“Currently, pastured forage is the only crop which is grown on the farm. There are approximately 160 acres of pasture on our farm, consisting of native forages, endophyte-free tall fescue, orchard grass, and warm-season annuals to supplement the summer grazing program,” Leavitt said. “Our focus is generating organic matter to increase the quality of our soil profile, mainly using rotational grazing of our cattle.”

Leavitt, also a project engineer in the Calvert County public works Capital Projects Division, put on his engineer hat to grow the farm sustainably. “I was intrigued by the successes and farming practices used by Joel Salatin on Polyface Farms in Swope, Virginia,” he said. “I immediately bought all of his books and was fascinated by the concept of rotational grazing. We currently utilize a modified version of his farming model and I believe that so far it has been successful.”

The boarding component of the Leavitts’ business is geared mainly toward trail riding. They offer full care stall/field boarding for their equine clients, have over 11 miles of trails on the property, and have an outdoor grass ring and round pen for their patrons’ use.

Rounding out the Leavitts’ top three farming priorities is the beef (and other meat) production and sales.

“This vocation provides the freedom to cultivate a source of food that I helped to create in any way that I choose,” said Leavitt. “I believe that people should have access to high-quality local food that is produced in a way that aligns with their personal beliefs. Whether that production method includes GMO/non-GMO, organic, non-organic, or grassfed/grainfed, I feel that it is our duty as farmers to provide the highest quality options to the residents of our nation, state, county, and local communities regardless of the specific production details.”

Leavitt’s twin brother, Justin, and his aunt and uncle (who all also live on the farm) are very helpful in working cows, putting up fence and whatever needs to be done. His dad mows the majority of the non-pasture grass and helps to keep the farm looking clean. “It truly is a family affair,” he adds.

No Farm is an Island: Nationwide Helps with Protection, Growth

Helping Wilson Dowell Farms to continue to be as productive as possible during times of adversity is their Nationwide farm policy and agent Carrie Polk of Carrie Polk Insurance, based in Prince Frederick, Maryland.

“Besides two other weather-related claims we had to Nationwide that were handled wonderfully for us, my mother was involved in an accident while trailering some horses. The Readers’ Digest version is that a Porsche driver passed mom’s truck and trailer while lanes were condensing, so the driver clipped mom’s truck, spun out and slammed into the guardrail. The driver was not happy with the settlement amount, a calculated loss offered by Nationwide, and decides to sue Mom, the farm, and even entities that do not exist in an attempt to recover millions of dollars in damages. In a jury trial, the Nationwide-appointed attorney wins the case, mom is found not guilty, and the driver recovers nothing. In a way, I am glad that the driver was being greedy and did not accept the settlement offer – since my mom was not at fault. I can imagine that it was a nerve-wracking experience going through depositions and anxiously awaiting trial, not to mention the stress of testimony. Both Carrie and Nationwide’s attorneys were unbelievably helpful and supportive of my mom through this process.”

“There’s a reason why you work 10-hour days and 60 hours a week in this business at times,” said Polk. “My farm families really are like family. Some of my best appointments are at the kitchen table, seeing what’s important to each family, what keeps them up at night. It’s not just about protection, either; it’s about insuring the growth. I ask, here’s where you are today; where do you want to go?”

“Nationwide is not the cheapest insurance company in the business,” said Leavitt. “However, sometimes in life, you get what you pay for. The peace of mind provided by knowing how Nationwide has taken care of us in the past and will be there for us in the future, to me, is absolutely worth every penny. Mom and I meet with Carrie at least once annually to review our coverages, discuss equipment inventory, and assess our farm operations. I don’t believe that there is a better agent (or person for that matter!) in the insurance business for us.”

“Everyone is concerned about price, but price means different things to different people,” said Polk. “I have to carry professional liability and I have a responsibility. I try to build a policy up and then take things off, so someone doesn’t inadvertently forget to add something. I try to take costs off while not compromising coverage. A farm is not a typical home coverage situation. There are extra things to consider, like cargo coverage for hauling livestock. You pay now, or you pay later — I say this all the time: Mother Nature is going to win.”

“Farming to me is an honest living, meaning that you have the ultimate responsibility of performing a myriad of necessary tasks in a timely manner to attempt to ensure a quality product,” said Leavitt. Echoing what Polk said, “Mother Nature is not always a reliable business partner! In this vocation, devotion is required, and shortcuts are not an option. I feel that you must be consistent or you will not find the path to a sustainable product. We have been with Nationwide since 2010 and plan to stay with them, one of the many tools in our toolbox to help us ensure our end quality products.”

Please visit www.wilsondowellfarms.com for how to order meat, and to learn more.

Farm safety and volunteer firefighting with Dan Neenan

Farm safety and volunteer firefighting with Dan Neenan

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

Dan Neenan became a volunteer firefighter in 1991 and quickly saw something that would become a huge part of his career. First responders in small towns like his often didn’t have the training and equipment they needed to save lives on the farm.

So he set out to change that. Now more than 30 years later, Neenan is a paramedic specialist and firefighter II with the Epworth and Centralia/Peosta, Iowa, fire departments. He’s also the director of the National Educational Center for Ag Safety (NECAS). And through a close partnership with Nationwide, he’s been able to deliver what he saw lacking when he first started fighting fires and saving lives.

“There are very few responders available for a fire, medical or agricultural emergency that can happen in and around our rural communities,” said Neenan, who joined the NECAS staff in 2000. “We started by developing safety and rescue programs that are agriculturally based.”

Hands-on training for firefighters and farmers

A huge part of Neenan’s work at NECAS is providing training for rural firefighters and farmers. Much of his instruction is hands-on and involves simulating some of the most hazardous working conditions and settings on and around farms like:

  • Tractor rollovers
  • Combine augers
  • Grain bins
  • Confined manure storage

“We develop hands-on training programs. Farmers and firefighters are alike in that they don’t want to sit and listen to somebody talk for 8 hours,” Neenan said. “They want to go out and get their hands dirty. And do something. 

What Neenan’s work means to farm communities

In the almost 20 years since beginning these programs and simulators, Neenan said it’s not always easy to gauge his success. But with around 10,000 first responders having completed training, it’s clear he’s leading a team that’s making a big difference. And saving lives.

“From the safety side, it’s really hard to count an incident that didn’t happen,” he said. “From the rescue side, it’s a different story. Thirty-two departments have completed our grain bin safety training and have gone on to rescue someone in a bin.”

Neenan has led lifesaving efforts. But he’s quick to point out he’s no hero. To him, he’s just one member of a larger team — including Nationwide — who has made a lifesaving difference in farm towns around the country.

Success takes a team effort

The team aspect of the NECAS work Neenan leads is the biggest reason for its success. It’s not unlike what makes rural firefighters so good at what they do.

“If you look at the partnership we have with Nationwide and all the partners who have come together to donate or help make something like Grain Bin Safety Week happen, do I play a part in it? Yes. Am I the only reason? I don’t think so,” Neenan said. “It takes a team to do that. Just like a fire department.”

Visit AgInsightCenter.com for expert tips and information from Nationwide for your farm or ranch.

*A.M. Best Market Share Report 2021.
Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and Nationwide is on your side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2022 Nationwide

Translate »