We understand this is an incredibly worrying time for many farm businesses who are affected by the Coronavirus outbreak. Across the UK, farmers are working hard to keep operations going and feed the nation.
We, along with our Agents across the UK, are providing support, information and advice during these difficult times to help our members continue to operate as best as they can. We are working closely with rural charities to support farmers and the rural community.
We will continue to cover our customers who already have uncollected milk insurance. This means we will pay for damage arising from the inability of a dairy or its agent to collect milk under a contract with the dairy farmer, due to circumstances beyond the farmer’s control, resulting in milk being wasted or spoiled.
Advice for Farmers
Take steps to protect yourself and your employees from Coronavirus. It’s important to ensure your employees understand the government’s latest public health advice and guidance to minimise risk and prevent the spread of the virus. Have a plan in place should you, or your workforce be affected by illness, to minimise risks to your health, and your business.
Getting extra help on the farm and young people
Young people in rural areas, such as students, may be called upon to help if family members, friends or neighbours who are older, vulnerable, or have contracted coronavirus COVID-19 need additional support. If this is the case, measures need to be put in place to ensure young farmers and those who are not familiar with the farming workplace are aware of the dangers they could face whilst on farm. The Farm Safety Foundation, founded and funded by NFU Mutual to support the physical and mental wellbeing of farmers, has published a new guide to keep students safe on the farm during the Coronavirus pandemic. You can find the guide on www.yellowwellies.org
With the closure of schools, there will be more children spending time on farms for longer periods than ever before and the Farm Safety Foundation has also put together a simple, easy to read booklet to remind parents of the risks they face on the farm every day. The guide, which has helpful advice to keep everyone safe, can also be downloaded from www.yellowwellies.org
The government has introduced emergency measures so that benefits can be claimed from the first day of illness rather than the eighth. For farms and other small businesses employing staff, the government is meeting the cost of sick pay for employees of small and medium sized enterprises, up to the first 14 days of a quarantine period.
Working differently with customers during difficult times
Many farm businesses which retail directly to the public will be concerned by the impact of the outbreak and a reduction in footfall. Now is an important time to connect with your local community and use social media to encourage people to support local businesses in difficult times. Remind people of the provenance and quality of your product, offer delivery where commercially viable to do so, and reassure customers about your commitment to high standards of hygiene and food safety. For instance, encourage contactless payments where possible.
Mental health and wellbeing
Farming can be an isolated profession at the best of times and reduced contact with others will add to feelings of loneliness. Stress and anxiety may be caused by worries about the illness and its effect on loved ones, or there may be concerns about the financial impact of the outbreak and potential hardship. The Farm Safety Foundation, founded and funded by NFU Mutual, offers resources like the Little Book of Minding your Head as well as blogs and advice on dealing with stress and mental wellbeing, in addition to details of sources of support available for farmers and their families throughout the country. Visit www.yellowwellies.org
As with most other insurers, our standard Business Interruption cover usually requires damage to property, such as storms or fires, in order to be triggered. This means that when Covid-19 was added to the government’s list of notifiable diseases, this did not change policy coverage.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, acknowledged that many businesses wouldn’t be insured when he announced his £330bn government support package for businesses, which will be important for diversified farm businesses working in areas such as hospitality.
Find out more on our page for Business Insurance and Coronavirus.