Hot topics & tips on the ever changing business of farming

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Do farming operations need to carry workers compensation?

Farming operations have typically been run by families. Families are considered exempt from the workers compensation law. Meaning the farm doesn’t have to carry workers compensation on dad, mom, brother, sister, grandma, and grandpa.

If dad hires a neighbor boy to help milk cows, does the farm need to carry workers compensation on the neighbor boy? The answer could be yes or no. A few more questions need to be addressed.

How does the farm pay the neighbor boy?

Maybe the farm chops silage for the neighbor boy in exchange for milking the cows. In this case, workers compensation is not needed since it is exchange labor.

Maybe the farm pays the neighbor boy $20 each time. Workers compensation is recommended, but may not be required. Read on…

How much did the farm pay in payroll last year?

If the farm paid over $2,500 in payroll the previous calendar year, the farm needs to have a workers compensation policy to cover their paid labor.

How much does the farm pay the neighbor boy on an annual basis?

The amount of payroll and the type of work is important when figuring the cost of workers compensation. Different rates will apply for different work. If the neighbor boy helps with livestock, he will be charged a higher rate than if he is completing field work. To manage workers compensation cost, it is best to keep track of payroll by each type of work. If  records aren’t kept, all the payroll will be subject to the highest rate.

What if the farm entity is not family?

Partners and members of limited liability companies can choose to include or exclude themselves from workers compensation. Workers compensation is another cost to the farming operation. But before a decision is made to exclude workers compensation coverage, consider  the benefits of workers compensation. Farm owners/operators are the livelihood of the farming operation.





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The benefits of Workers Compensation

Workers compensation provides medical, income, death, and rehabilitation benefits for a job related injury or illness. The employee gives up the right to sue the employer in exchange for these benefits.

If workers compensation is not provided, the employee has to sue the employer for coverage. The employer has to be found negligent for his liability insurance to pay.

If a farmhand slips when climbing out of a tractor and tears a ligament in his knee, is the farmer negligent? Did the farmer maintain a safe work environment?

These questions are tricky to answer. Many times the employee feels the employer should pay for the injury or illness and the employer wants to provide coverage. Workers compensation coverage is a great answer because the policy will provide coverage regardless of fault. No tricky questions and uncomfortable situations.

More details on workers compensation benefits are provided below.

Unlimited Medical Benefits

If a farmhand slips when climbing out of a tractor and tears a ligament in his knee, workers compensation will pay for medical expenses for doctor visits, exams, and surgery.

Income Benefits

If the farmhand is unable to work for a period of time or is unable to do all work, workers compensation would pay an income benefit. The income benefit is up to 80% of spendable earnings, but cannot be more than 66 2/3% of average weekly earnings subject to maximum and minimum weekly limits.

The farmhand could end up with a total or a partial disability. If the farmhand could not perform any work, this is a total disability. A partial disability would be if the farmhand returns to work and is able to do some work. In this case, the disability income would provide coverage for the % of earnings lost due to a reduced income.

Death Benefits

If a death results from a job related injury or illness, $7,500 of burial allowance is provided to the surviving family member.

Rehabilitation Benefits 

If the farmhand needed physical therapy after surgery, workers compensation would provide coverage. Coverage also extends to any devices needed, such as a wheelchair.

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Climate Fieldview Prime- Accumulated Precipitation

As we approach the 2016 crop season, farmers realize we have had a wet winter and are trying to manage the impact of wet winter soils. Wouldn’t it be nice to know how wet it was compared to normal? Climate Fieldview Prime provides accumulative precipitation on a field level basis. Let’s take a look at a field near Ackley, IA.

Ackley Precip

The accumulated precipitation graph starts on November 1st and ends April 3rd. During this time period, Ackley has gotten 15.42″ of precipitation. The orange line on the graph represents the average rainfall over the last 30 years, 7.33″ of precipitation. We have received more than twice the average precipitation this year.

How to see accumulated precipitation on your fields. 

All fields mapped in Climate Fieldview Prime have this weather information available to view. On a desktop computer, simply click on a field and “View Full Forecast”. Then click on “Past Weather” in the upper right hand corner of the screen. The accumulated precipitation will now appear on your screen. The date range is defaulted to the crop year, but it is easy to customize the date range in the upper left hand corner. To see the 5 year, 15 year, and 30 year average precipitation for the same date range, click on the compare box in the upper right hand corner.

Contact Betsy to set up a free Climate Fieldview Prime Account. Weather data is valuable information to help make in-season management decisions on your farm.


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Climate’s Nitrogen Advisor Insights for 2016 Season

Nitrogen Cycle

Nitrogen Cycle —Mineralization

Mineralization is the process of breaking down organic matter into ammonium. Ammonium is a stable form of nitrogen, because it has a positive charge and attracts to the soil. Nitrification is the process of breaking down ammonium into nitrate. Nitrate has a  negative charge and moves freely with the water in the soil. This makes nitrate less stable in the soil and more susceptible to leaching.  Continue reading

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2016 Crop Insurance Coverage and Premiums

Projected Prices for 2016 are $3.86 for corn and $8.85 for soybeans.

How much coverage per acre?

Below,  I have put together two charts for Hardin County, IA: one for corn and one for soybeans. Select the APH that best represents your operation. You can then see the dollar per acre coverage level for 80% and 85% Revenue Protection. The coverage level does not change with unit structure. (OU: Optional Units  and EU: Enterprise Units).

2016 Corn Revenue Protection Coverage – Hardin County, IA

Corn Coverage

Continue reading

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3 things you may not know about your crop hail coverage

1. Do you know if your crop hail policy has an actual cash value clause?

An actual cash value clause states that the amount payable may not exceed the actual cash value of the portion of the crop destroyed by perils insured against. The actual cash value may be determined  by averaging the next 10 days closing market cash price at a facility where you normally sell your grain.

Most years, the actual cash value clause doesn’t affect a hail payment. However, if the weather is abnormally dry or wet, the crop hail coverage may exceed the actual cash value of the crop. Unfortunately, this situation is when the actual cash value clause may reduce a hail payment.

For example: You insured your crop to value at $800 per acre, but at claim time, a drought caused the crop to only be worth $600 per acre. The hail storm created a 30% hail loss.  On a full coverage policy, the loss calculation would use the $600 actual cash value limit rather than the $800 crop hail limit. This would result in a $180 per acre claim payment ($600 x 30%) rather than a $240 claim payment ($800 x 30%).

Check to see if an actual cash value clause is included in your crop hail policy. Continue reading

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Benefits of precision reporting

Everyone wants to save time and money! I am not sure if you can actually save it, but I am sure you can manage it. Using precision monitors for crop insurance record keeping can help manage time and money.

Manage Time 

Record keeping takes time. Precision reporting requires the seeding map and wet weight map from the precision monitor and a calibration report.

No load logs.

No scale tickets.

No bin measurements.

No feeding records.

If Automated Crop Reporting is used, the acreage report and production report would be automatically completed. The agent and the farmer would also know if a crop insurance claim applies when the farmer leaves the field. No figuring necessary. The system would update and provide notification.

Manage Money 

Precision technology is accurate. The actual planted acres from the seeding map will be used on the acreage report, not the FSA acres. Typically, FSA acres are slightly higher than actual planted acres. This saves crop insurance premium. Also, total production reported on less acres would increase yield. Building an actual production history is important in a claim year.

Total production should be within 3%. This is verified by calibration. There could easily be more variance in load logs and bin measurements. Accurate production is important to building an accurate actual production history.

Precision reporting claims are easy to adjust and can be done in a timely manner. Therefore, a claim payment can be provided in a timely manner.

Accurate and efficient record keeping provides value. Precision crop insurance reporting is a useful management tool to consider. Contact me at or check out my other blog posts: 3 ways to use precision monitors for crop insurance reporting and Tips for using precision monitors for crop insurance reporting.