How to keep the public safe on your farm

For people not involved in agriculture there are few opportunities to find out about the world within the hedgerows.

And it’s important that there should be greater understanding between farmers and the wider public. People are interested now, more than ever, about where their food comes from and how it is produced.

Farmers too can gain valuable knowledge about those who consume their products – understanding what your customer wants and their changing tastes is important for any business.

This is why events such as Open Farm Sunday are such an amazing opportunity for farmers to showcase this dynamic industry, dispel some old myths and stereotypes, and help put farming at the heart of their communities.

For those who will be welcoming members of the public onto their land, there are some extra considerations which should be given around the issue of safety.

Safety checklist for farm visits

  • Decide which areas of the farm you want people to visit. Make sure that routes around the farm divert visitors from dangerous areas such as working machinery, chemical stores, slurry lagoons, grain stores, silage pits, etc.
  • Keep the farm as clean as possible and ensure areas and pathways to which visitors have access are kept free from any build-up of faeces.
  • If visitors are to be allowed to pet and feed animals, it is important that hand-washing facilities are available and that warm running water, liquid soaps and paper towels should be provided and that adequate supervision is provided in the contact areas.  If you do not wish visitors to have contact with any of the animals, then either arrange routes away from areas where animals are kept or install double fencing to prevent contact.
  • Erect signs to inform visitors of dangers. Remember that signs do not negate the need for adequate supervision.
  • Ensure everyone involved in hosting the visit is trained and instructed on what visitors should or should not do. If farming operations are taking place at the same time as the visit, it is important that the two are suitably segregated.
  • Remember that children are naturally curious and can often get into apparently inaccessible places. Whilst parents have a particular responsibility to prevent their children straying into areas where they may be at risk, you must take responsibility for the safety of visitors to your site.

NFU Mutual’s support for Open Farm Sunday

To encourage farmers to take part in Open Farm Sunday, NFU Mutual extends its customers’ insurance cover for no extra charge every year as standard.

Farmers hosting events on this year’s Open Farm Sunday, on June 11, do not need to change their insurance or contact their local office. However farmers should let their Agent know if they plan to charge visitors for any other commercial activity on the day that isn’t part of the event. NFU Mutual will extend its members’ farm public liability insurance without extra charge - providing the event is free to the public.

“As an insurer with farming and the rural community at our heart, we’re delighted to provide this support to farmers who insure with “The Mutual” and are welcoming the public on to their farms on Open Farm Sunday,” said Tim Price, NFU Mutual Rural Affairs Specialist.

LEAF Open Farm Sunday, which takes place on June 11, gives visitors the opportunity to see first-hand all that farmers do and the impact their work has on our lives.

This year farms across the country, from Cornwall to Orkney, will provide young and old with an opportunity to see farming in action and learn more about the work farmers are so proud to do.

Since the first Open Farm Sunday, organised by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) in 2006 over 1.8m people have visited a farm.

To find details of farms holding events, visit the Open Farm Sunday website