There are a number of different types of farms in the UK, so choosing the right farm insurance is essential to ensure that you’re adequately covered.
Farmland can refer to arable farms, fruit farms, vegetable farms, dairy farms, poultry farms and numerous other types of agricultural lands.
Land statistics in the UK (dated 2005) show that cultivated land equates to 23.43% (or 56,604km²) of the UK’s total 241,590km². Cultivated land is a sum of total arable land (56,121km² / 23.23%) and permanent crops land (483km² / 0.2%), so farmland certainly accounts for a significant portion of UK land – arable land especially.
Arable land is land that is used to grow crops or, at least, is “able to be plowed” (the latin word for which is “arabilis”). Arable land consists of land cultivated for temporary crops, meaning crops that are replanted after each harvest. This includes wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, sugar beets and more. Contrastly, permanent crops are ones which are not replanted after each harvest, such as fruit trees and nut trees.
The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) and World Bank define arable land as being:
land under temporary agricultural crops (multiple-cropped areas are counted only once), temporary meadows for mowing or pasture, land under market and kitchen gardens and land temporarily fallow (less than five years). The abandoned land resulting from shifting cultivation is not included in this category. Data for ‘Arable land’ are not meant to indicate the amount of land that is potentially cultivable.
According to this definition, arable land is different from agricultural land in that all arable land is agricultural but not all agricultural land is arable. Some examples of agricultural land that is not arable include permanent crop land (such as orchards, vineyards and coffee plantations) and meadows and pastures (natural grasslands used for grazing and hay production). Agricultural land can be devoted to both rearing livestock and/or producing crops.
As arable land is used for agriculture, then of course farming equipment, such as tractors and combine harvesters, is to be expected on your land, which makes arable land insurance slightly costlier than insuring empty land with no farming equipment. But the activity on the land also makes the land more of a risk.
Depending on what agricultural activities take place on your land, the risks involved will be different and so the insurance cover you need will be different. For example, if you rear livestock, you can purchase livestock cover to protect your finances in the devastating event of a disease outbreak, theft, or an accident involving your livestock.
If you have uncultivated moorland but allow livestock onto the moor or heath for grazing purposes, then moorland insurance is recommended to protect yourself against liability claims. If you own undeveloped pasture, then pasture insurance will suit your land more specifically as it allows cattle, sheep, goats and even equine onto your pasture for grazing or horse riding for leisure. You can also get environmental liability cover, to cover you for the costs of soil or water contamination that you are liable for.
Any farming equipment and machinery will also have to be covered separately from your land insurance, as an extension of liability insurance. You may benefit from purchasing plant cover.
Public liability insurance for land can often be packaged into your land insurance, and can cover injuries to members of the public whilst they are on your land. This can be any third party hiker, rambler or neighbour. Public liability insurance can also cover you in the event of an accident or injury while you are working offsite. For example, at a festival or a farmers market, or even someone becoming ill from eating your produce.
Many smaller farms in the UK are referred to “smallholdings”. Usually under 50 acres, smallholdings are a type of farmland used for growing crops or rearing livestock as a means of achieving self-sufficiency, though landowners may choose to supplement their income by selling any of the surplus produce from their land (most commonly, at farmer markets). This type of farmland will often have family living quarters on the property, which would require separate home insurance and contents insurance. Many “Pick Your Own” farms (or “U-Pick farms”), such as the popular strawberry picking farms, are developed on smallholdings as a family business. Premiums start from as little as £185 per annum for up to 50 acres of arable land and fields – perfect for those looking for small farm and smallholdings insurance. Even a hobby farm that generates no income from its farm activities should seriously consider insurance.
If you employ any workers on your farm (whether they’re full-time, part-time, voluntary or family), then employers liability insurance is a legal obligation.
Inadequate cover could leave you facing financial disaster if a member of the public were to become seriously injured on your land, or if a fire were to break out burning down all your produce and assets.
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