Updated September 4, 2021 . AmFam Team
A hobby farm is an exciting lifestyle choice, not a business. But that doesn’t mean that protecting it is any less important. You’ve put a lot into your livestock and crops, and probably made some equipment investments too. Now it’s time to give your farm the protection it deserves with hobby or small farm insurance.
Even people who live in the city or suburbs are discovering hobby farming in varying degrees and may benefit from some added coverage. In addition to protecting your property and farm, you have to be cognizant of your neighbors and their safety, which can be even more important in an urban setting.
While some hobby pursuits may fall under your homeowners insurance policy, as your little farm grows and if it earns money, hobby farm insurance or even small farm insurance will give you extra protection. If you begin selling produce or products made from your farm, product liability insurance should be a consideration. And don’t forget to look into coverage for any equipment you purchase.
For anyone just starting a hobby farm, making a list of short and long-term goals helps create a foundation of success. Do you want to focus on animals, crops or both? Starting small and building toward that long-term dream gives you room to grow and space to adjust your plan as you learn along the way. Sharing that list with your insurance agent will help you determine how much and what type of hobby farm insurance you need and what milestones may signal that it’s time for a policy update.
A routine insurance check-up is a great way to stay on top of your coverage and make sure you and those who may be effected by your farm are protected. Contact your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) today to re-examine your coverage.
Carefully sourcing items for purchase, reviewing bids, getting financing and insuring your farm’s belongings is a critical part of managing your farm or ranch. And since it’s taken so much to get your operation where it is today, it makes good business sense to build an inventory of your farm’s equipment, implements and assets.
Take a look at these tips and best practices for creating an accurate inventory for continued success on your farm or ranch.
Gathering your equipment information into one place can be a process — but the payoff is worth it. Not only will you have access to important details about each piece of equipment, you’ll also have a running list of makes and model numbers in the event that parts or service is required. And you’ll have everything you need when it’s time to get a fair market value price for your equipment.
And having an updated inventory on file can really pay off if you need to file an insurance claim, because you’ll have all the information right there to get the claim started. Take a look at the details on our farm and ranch coverage to be sure you’ve got the right insurance that fits your farm’s business needs.
It’s time to get down to business and start pulling files. Begin by building a list of implements and equipment that are essential to your farm’s day to day operations. Here are some of the documents you’ll need.
Start with the high-value items and assets on your farm like the ones listed below:
Once you have the records out for the above items, dig in and locate the following:
Powerful farm management software is available to quickly turn your farm equipment inventory and implement details into a web-enabled, mobile-friendly database that you can access and update from anywhere. All you'll need is a cell signal and the app downloaded to your mobile device.
More importantly, farm management software can make your farm easier to run and more profitable too. Many systems are able to manage your farm’s entire business, from employee payroll to tracking crop and livestock details, to accounts payable and receivable. They’re worth considering.
With your inventory complete, you’ll be able to rapidly gain insights into which equipment is approaching the end of its usable life, and which items are in need of replacement. With non-cash expenses like inventory depreciation tracked closely, you can make informed decisions on when to sell or purchase large implements and equipment.
An accurate picture of your farm’s inventory can offer key insights from your farm's financial health to the fair market value of your assets like livestock and equipment. Another benefit of creating a farm inventory is that it also helps assess the value of the farm as a whole, when the time comes to evaluate your estate. Understanding the importance of a farm succession plan will help you to carry your family’s vision and future business intents to the next generation.
After you’ve completed your farm equipment inventory, get a copy of it to your American Family Insurance agent. With this information, you’ll be able to tune your insurance to best reflect today’s needs so that — no matter what tomorrow brings — you and your family’s investments will be protected.
After you’ve brought in the harvest and prepared your operation for its annual winter hibernation, you might think that the risks to your farm are taking the winter off. But in truth, mother nature can do a lot of damage to your property in winter. Wind and snow loads can wreak havoc on weak or dated structures. And without the right farm insurance and additional coverages, your farm’s finances may be out in the cold if the unexpected should happen.
Special farm endorsements — otherwise known as additional coverages — can help cover building collapse costs that are the result from winter precipitation on your outbuilding’s roofs. Today, we’ll explore the nuances of our weight of ice, snow or sleet and winter perils coverage to help you protect everything you work so hard for all year long.
As a farmer, you know the goals of your farming business better than anyone. After all, it’s what you do day in and day out. What’s equally important as a business owner is understanding the audience you’re marketing to and how to reach them. That’s why creating an online presence for your farm is so important — it’ll help you connect with your customers and build an authentic brand that people are attracted to.
An active online presence, when used correctly, is an effective tool that offers the opportunity to reach a broad range of customers and implement your business strategy. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can begin building your farm’s presence on the web and, ultimately, help you meet your business goals.
Before introducing your farm to the World Wide Web, you’ll want to keep these two things front of mind:
From your website to your e-newsletter, your customers consume and engage with every platform in different ways. So, when you start building your online presence, you’ll want to have an understanding of each platform’s purpose. That way, when your customer interacts with your business, they’re getting the information they expect.
For instance, someone visiting your farm’s website is going to be looking for much different information than if they were on your Twitter feed. Or if a customer follows your Instagram account, they aren’t expecting the same stories as they read in your farm’s e-newsletter.
You can build a better experience for your customers by asking yourself what mindset your reader is in when they head to each platform you create.
Understanding your customer is essential to the success of your digital presence. Before delivering a message effectively, you need to know who the message is going to and why. For starters, consider the kind of farm you run. Are you a commercial farm that sells your product to big businesses for distribution, or is your customer local businesses and families? The content and its tone depends on who you’re trying to reach. Who are they, what are they looking for and what’s the most authentic way you can relate to them to get them what they want? Understand their motivation by putting yourself in their shoes.
Now that you have a better idea of some digital basics, let’s put that knowledge into practice — starting with your website. The internet is a powerful tool to market the product(s) your farm produces, and creating a website is a key way to harness its potential. Follow these guidelines for website best practices:
Set goals. Spontaneity has its time and place, but building a website to market your brand isn’t the situation to jump in without a plan. It’s important to set realistic, achievable goals for round one of your website. Keep in mind, your site is a work in progress and can be improved upon in many iterations. Consider what you want your website to achieve. Are you selling products? Do you offer a CSA? Do you want to educate people on agriculture? Maybe you’ll create a gallery to show images of the fun you have on your farm. Take the time to sit down and list out a few goals for round one. With your plan in place, it’ll make the next steps that much easier.
Creating the website. You’ll need to decide if you want to hire someone to create your website or if you plan on crafting one yourself. Many sites exist that make it super easy to create and maintain your own website — and most of them are even free to use! If you choose to have someone develop a website for you, make sure it implements a content management system so you can update the site yourself. This way, you can easily keep things relevant without always having to go back to the designer (and pay them) to make changes.
Provide a clear description of who you are. If someone stumbled upon your website, would they be able to identify who you are and the purpose of your farming business within a matter of seconds? That’s your goal — create a homepage that’ll attract and retain your customer’s attention so they’ll stay on your page. Make sure the name of your business stands out and a summary of your products and services is included.
Clear navigation. In order to guide your customers to discover all the great things about your business, you’ll want a navigation menu with clear links that lead to your pages. A dropdown menu offers an easy way for your visitor to see all that you have to offer, no matter which page they’re on. You’ll ultimately decide which pages you want on your page, but home, about us, newsletter, calendar, contact us, links to your social media pages and other important services you offer are common pages to include on your website. Remember, your pages will align with the goals you set at the beginning.
No matter what type of farming you do, an e-newsletter is a simple and effective way to promote your farm. An e-newsletter is a periodic “report” with information and news about your farm and, in this case, is distributed to your subscribers via email. This form of marketing can be very effective because it’s targeted to people who have already taken interest in what you’re doing.
So what should you know about creating an e-newsletter? Start with these three tips:
Newsletter content. A good rule of thumb to follow is to include content that’s 90% educational and 10% promotional. Chances are the person who subscribed to your e-newsletter wants to get to know your business better and continue to stay informed — not be pushed to buy something. Providing educational, relevant information builds trust between your reader and your business. Here are some ideas for content you might include:
There’s no end to the content you can include in your newsletter, but most importantly, make sure it’s relevant and have an understanding what your reader is looking for.
Newsletter design. A newsletter can be sent by mail, email or included on your website. Our suggestion is to send your subscribers an email as well as include a web page for your newsletters on your website. That way non-subscribers can view the newsletter and hopefully become subscribers! Here are a few things to keep in mind for the layout of your newsletter:
Newsletter frequency. How often should you send your newsletter? Most people choose to send a weekly, monthly or quarterly newsletter. It all comes down to your own personal goals and what your business offers. If you have a lot of events happening on your farm or are very customer-focused, sending a weekly newsletter is a good idea. If you don’t think you’ll have much time to put into a weekly newsletter, go for the quarterly and make sure to spend time filling it with all the great things that have gone over the last three months. A monthly newsletter is a good, doable balance for busy farmers who need to keep their customers updated but don’t have a lot of time.
Just remember — your newsletter is meant to attract your target audience and give them a reason to stick with you. Do what’s realistic for your business and have fun with it!
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube — just a few social media platforms you can use to easily promote your farm. And they are pretty simple to set up and maintain! Our advice is to focus on building out your presence on one platform and slowly work your way into creating more accounts once you get the hang of marketing through social media. Here’s a closer look at some great ways you can use social media on your farm.
A thought-out, well-run digital presence can benefit your farm in many ways. With the right goals and strategy in place, you can give your farm a digital edge. Your next steps? Go dig around the Internet and do some research. What kinds of farming websites exist? What kind of information do other farms include in their e-newsletters? Start following some successful farm’s on social media. Take a look at what already exists on the web to gain ideas on what might work or not work for your own strategy.
Remember — it’s all about knowing your audience and what they’re looking for. At the end of the day, it’s about making your customer happy.
Late in the 2020 growing season, straight line winds ripped across much of the Grain Belt. And in its wake, that derecho left many farmers wondering how they were going to get their downed crops into the combine and eventually off to market. Grain prices were already suffering due to the pandemic, and the damage those 100 mile-per-hour winds did wasn’t helping.
With much of your grain crop lying horizontal on the field, combines can’t work efficiently and the risks of fire in the combine increase as debris collects on the equipment near high heat sources. To reduce the fire risks of harvesting downed grain and lodged corn, and we’ve put together these key tips to help keep you and your team safe.