Farming Is a Risky Business

Barn blanketed in snow

Written By: Leah Chester-Davis

North Carolina is a leading agricultural state in poultry and eggs, sweet potatoes, tobacco, pork, trout, turkeys, and Christmas trees, along with myriad other crops that help make up the $87 billion in revenue each year.

Talk with farmers and they can tick off a number of reasons they got into the profession to begin with: feeding the world, being outside, being their own boss, working with animals, the lifestyle, working the soil, the list goes on.

Wrapped into all those appealing features about farming are dangers as well. Hazardous exposures to machinery, chemicals, livestock, and other workplace environments that can affect the health and safety of anyone involved in production agriculture.

Farming ranks in the top 10 of America’s most dangerous jobs, according to the 2016 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Farmers are about 10 times more likely to be disabled during their working life than somebody like me who works behind a desk,” says Tom Haarmann, Money Concepts financial services manager with Carolina Farm Credit. “But most farmers don’t have disability insurance. If something happens to them, the bills are still there. There’s still a mortgage payment, farm loans, and other expenses.”

Disability insurance is something to consider and it can be tailored to your needs, says Haarmann. “I usually tell people to sit down and map out your income and your expenses, particularly those you have to meet come heck or high water. Put yourself in the situation of not being able to work for 6 to 8 months. Where would the income come from? Do you have enough income coming in from the farm or other business? Do you have any residual income like life insurance or investments you can tap into? If the answer is no, then you may be a good candidate for disability insurance.”

He adds that it pays to at least take a look at your circumstances and consider “what if?”

“You may not need a Cadillac plan but may need one that could at least cover half of your monthly expenses.”

While Haarmann acknowledges that many of the farmers he works with do not have disability insurance, he notes that, just like with long-term care needs, often those who do have such insurance have experienced some type of crisis first-hand through another family member or neighbor.

It’s a tough situation when a family member is injured and is out of work for months or even years and they have to start selling assets just to maintain.

Talk with your loan officer for assistance in scheduling time with Haarmann to discuss various insurance options.

Make Your Farm Safer

For assistance in making sure your farm operation is a safe one for you, your family and employees, check out Certified Farm Safe and other safety focused programs of the N.C. Agromedicine Institute. Certified Safe Farm includes a safety review by a farm safety expert who will conduct an on-farm safety review designed to help prevent injury and save lives.

In this 4-part series we explore considerations such as life insurance policies as a tax-savings strategy, using life insurance policies for long-term care, and the difference between term and whole life.