For farmers in Scotland especially

Weather warning… don’t get left high and dry due to lack of cover in the rain

Don’t be left counting the cost of lack of cover after the wettest summer in Scotland for 80 years. This is the message from specialist farm insurance broker Farmers & Mercantile (F&M), as fears grow that increasing numbers of farmers could find themselves under-insured and facing environmental restrictions due to the continued level of heavy rainfall.

“Across the country, and particularly across the south and south west of Scotland, the persistent rainfall has resulted in a good many farms still with harvesting to complete, and silage unlikely to be finished,” explains Matt McWhirter, branch manager at F&M’s Ayrshire offices.

“As a result, there is a lot less availability of straw, and fodder prices are therefore going through the roof.”

While this may sound like great news for those with fodder in store and watching the value rise, in fact this could be the perfect storm if the stack limit, the maximum amount permitted to be stored in one shed, has been breached.

“Most insurers will have a stack limit value of, typically around £20,000, which in normal circumstances would be more than sufficient,” continues Mr McWhirter.

“But we are seeing straw that was previously reaching around £70 per tonne now valued at up to £120 per tonne, and this could obviously put a strain on these limits.”

The advice from F&M is to check with your insurance provider or broker what limits are in place.

“If the value in store exceeds the limit it is likely that at best you will be under-insured, and possibly not covered at all if the level has been breached,” warns Mr McWhirter.

Another unfortunate impact of the heavy rainfall will see many farmers racing the clock due to impending slurry deadlines. Despite some extensions being permitted and leniency in some parts of the country for those prevented from spreading slurry due to the poor weather, it is anticipated that the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) will be much more active on farms over the coming months.

“It is feasible, in many cases, that SEPA will be advising farms on their responsibilities and preventing certain activities being undertaken, although stopping short of prosecution,” explains Mr McWhirter.

The farmer may well disagree and wish to challenge the decision, but this could be a costly exercise without the right cover in place.

“Check your commercial legal cover,” urges Mr McWhirter. “Often legal expenses policies will only cover in the case of prosecution, but not disputes. The cost of disputing the decision may well be prohibitive, therefore without suitable cover the farmer will have to accept the ruling even if there is a just case for challenging the original decision.”

Mr McWhirter again advises to seek advice and guidance from the insurance provider or broker to ensure suitable cover is in place, and make sure policies are regularly reviewed.

Farmers & Mercantile is one of the largest independent insurance brokers specialising in agriculture, and its experienced team will advise on any concerns on farming or rural insurance. Call the Ayrshire branch on 01292 471097 or email ayr@fandmgroup.co.uk.