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Allen Financial Insurance Group / The Equestrian Group
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Allen Financial Insurance Group is a national, multi-line specialty insurance provider
Allen Financial Insurance Group is a national, multi-line specialty insurance provider

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Agritourism growth sparks concerns over safety, liability


BY LISA RATHKETHE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Farm owners are urged to take steps so their facilities and equipment are safe to help prevent accidents.

SOUTH HERO, Vt. — As more farms open themselves up to visitors for apple picking, hay rides and some extra income, experts are advising owners to take steps to prevent accidents – be they small or fatal.

Farming is one of the more dangerous occupations in the U.S. mostly due to the machinery and equipment, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But a growing interest in local food has led to agritourism becoming a big business, with the number of U.S. farms reporting income from such activities rising 42 percent between 2007 and 2012, according to the latest Census of Agriculture.

Adding urbanites, who may not be familiar with hazards such as irrigation ponds or farm equipment that could pique a child’s interest, can be a recipe for accidents. So, experts say farmers have to purchase the proper insurance, know where the hazards are and keep tourists away from those areas. Doing so can prevent injuries, lawsuits and notoriety and keep farms in business.

It isn’t known how many agritourism-related injuries have occurred in the U.S., said Marsha Salzwedel, an agritourism safety specialist with the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety in Marshfield, Wisconsin. Two people were killed last year: A teenager who, along with other riders, was thrown off a hayride trailer into trees in Maine and a 2-year-old girl who was pinned when a van shuttling passengers from a New Jersey farm’s harvest festival rolled into another van.

But, Salzwedel said, “the majority of these incidents if not all of them are pretty much preventable.”

The first key is assessing the risks, said Brian Schilling of Rutgers’ Cooperative Extension in New Brunswick, New Jersey. “If you’ve grown up on a farm you’re sort of blind to a lot of these things,” he said, advising owners to have an extension agent, emergency official or insurance agent walk the farm to identify hazards.

The extension also has a safety checklist that reminds farmers to, among other things, designate areas that are closed to the public, train employees to property operate farm machinery, secure and restrict areas that contain chemicals, provide hand-washing or hand-sanitizing stations and have employees assist with parking.

Ron Hackett takes several safety precautions around his business, Hackett’s Orchard in South Hero, Vermont, including playground inspections and a Plexiglas guard around its apple-sorting machine. He also transports visitors on a tractor-pulled trailer and has an attendant making sure riders are sitting down and keeping their hands from the side of the trailer.

“You’ve got to be ever vigilant,” said Hackett, who is only one of three people that is allowed to drive the tractor, which is the newest in his fleet.

Being correctly insured is also important, since a regular farm policy does not typically cover an agritourism activity, said Salzwedel, who added she’s seen a number of farms end up getting sued over injuries.

“In some incidences, they’re able to work through it and they work with the insurance companies if necessary and things go on fine,” she said. “In other incidences, it actually will close down the farm.”

In last year’s hayride accident, a corporation that owns the Harvest Hill Farm property in Mechanic Falls, Maine, has filed for bankruptcy, citing personal injury claims as a liability. The district attorney charged the farm with manslaughter, and brought misdemeanor charges against the driver and a mechanic; all pleaded not guilty last month. Farm owner Peter Bolduc denied knowing about any mechanical problems with the 1979 Jeep that was hauling the wagon.

Visitors can help to prevent injuries, too, by watching their children, making sure that hands are washed after activities involving livestock and following any farm’s posted rules.

Opening a farm to the public is not for everyone, so extension agents advise considering the implications first.

“In working with the farmers,” said Salzwedel, “a lot of them have plain out told me that you know I just sleep better at night when I know that I’ve done what I can to make my farm safe.”

Wyoming Governor Appeals Wild Horse Lawsuit Ruling

By Pat Raia - Jun 22, 2015 ---

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has appealed a federal court decision to dismiss a case alleging that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to manage wild horses appropriately in that state.

Last fall, the BLM began removing wild horses from the Checkerboard—a part of the range where private, federal, and state lands intermingle—to comply with a consent decree between the bureau and owners of livestock that also graze the rangelands. Wyoming subsequently filed suit against the Department of the Interior and the BLM alleging that the gather was illegal and asked the courts to order the BLM to manage the state’s wild horses according to the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. Some wild horse advocates asked the court to dismiss the case on grounds that a favorable ruling would promote the removal of all wild horses from Wyoming’s ranges.

The case was dismissed. However, on June 19, Michael J. McGrady, Wyoming’s senior assistant attorney general, filed notice that the state would appeal the decision of dismiss. In a written statement, Mead said the appeal was filed because the BLM has still not managed the Wyoming wild horse population appropriately.

“Mismanagement of the herds can have adverse consequences for the range and other species which share that habitat,” he said. “The BLM's approach fails to comply with the applicable law.”

Tony Brown, BLM spokesman, declined comment on the pending litigation.

However, American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign Director Suzanne Roy believes Mead's appeal is intended to benefit ranchers in the state.

“Fewer than 4,500 wild horses remain in the entire state of Wyoming on 3.6 million acres, while hundreds of thousands of cattle and sheep graze on 18 million acres of public lands in the state,” she said. “GovWild horses wyoming BLMrnor Mead should stop wasting tax dollars on meritless lawsuits to help ranchers in their quest to remove more mustangs from the range so they can graze more livestock on our public lands.”

The appeal remains pending.

House Committee Approves TRIA Renewal Bill with NARAB Amendment

The House Financial Services Committee today voted to report out a bill to extend the federal terrorism insurance program for another five years. The bill also contains some reforms of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) and an insurance producer licensing reform amendment.

In considering the TRIA Reform Act of 2014 (H.R. 4871) yesterday, the committee attached the producer licensing bill— the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Reform Act (NARAB) — to the TRIA bill. NARAB would create a nonprofit board for insurance agents and brokers to more easily obtain approval to operate on a multi-state basis.

The House committee resumed consideration this morning of the TRIA bill, introduced earlier this week by Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, chairman of the Insurance and Housing Subcommittee. It voted 32-27 to report the bill to the full House.

The TRIA bill won reluctant support from Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, chair of the powerful House committee, who acknowledged he does not have support for his preference for further restricting federal involvement in terrorism insurance and shifting more responsibility to private insurers.

“I assure you if I was a committee of one, this is not the bill we would be considering today,” Hensarling said at the opening of the committee session. “For those who think it goes too far too fast, I for one think it goes not very far and too slowly. At a minimum, I would also include either premiums for the free coverage that reinsurance and large companies receive courtesy of the taxpayers. Or in the alternative, increased reserve requirements to further lessen taxpayer exposure. Regrettably, I do not feel there is sufficient support for one and further work is needed on the other. Not unlike some Members of the other body, I hope that we can review this issue in the future.”

Hensarling said he would support the bill (he voted for it) because he believes it is a “reasonable set of changes to improve a needed-but-yet-still-temporary program.”

H.R. 4871 would extend TRIA for five years, increase the insurer co-pay to 20 percent, and create a new program bifurcation for nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological (NBCR) type of attacks. The House legislation also increases the program’s trigger from $100 million to $500 million.

The House bill differs in several respects from a version passed earlier this month by the Senate Banking Committee, a version the industry appears to prefer. That bill now awaits a vote by the full Senate.

The NARAB amendment was introduced by Neugebauer and agreed to on a voice vote.

Supporters of NARAB hope to be able to attach their bill to the Senate TRIA bill as well.

This is not the first time NARAB supporters have tried to get it passed along with another bill. They nearly succeeded earlier this year in having the licensing bill attached to a flood insurance bill. The strategy didn’t work out that time as the final flood bill that passed in March was not the Senate version with he NARAB provisions but the House version, which did not contain the licensing measure.

The industry been pushing the NARAB bill or a version of it since 2006.

Equine Rescue program designed to help veterans cope
By Ben Baugh ---
A national program recognized for helping veterans cope with trauma, stress and psychological wounds by bonding and interacting with off-the-track Thoroughbreds will now have a presence in Aiken.
The Saratoga WarHorse Foundation has announced that Equine Rescue of Aiken at Haven Hills Farm will be its first satellite facility.
A ceremony inaugurating the local installation will be held on Wednesday at 11 a.m.
The facility is owned by the RMF Foundation and was established by Richard and Isabel Furland.
The program allows the veterans and horses to establish trust without judgement.
The program is based on real action, embodying the spirit of helping people directly by healing emotional wounds, and not just talking about doing so, said Bob Nevins, Saratoga WarHorse founder in a phone interview on Thursday afternoon.
The selection of Aiken as the initial satellite site fit the master plan of the program, said Nevins.
“We wanted to be involved in the community, a strong community that reaches out to veterans,” said Nevins. “We found out that at our Saratoga facilty that there were a number of people from Aiken who asked us what they could do to help and were willing to help financially.”
Then the opportunity to have access to a facility without major expense to Saratoga WarHorse presented itself, said Nevins. Aiken is the ideal location during the winter months, offering a far more accommodating climate than Saratoga, he said.
“They (Equine Rescue of Aiken) have the horses, and the facility offers the privacy that the program needs to do what we do,” said Nevins.
“It will give us a chance to build up the facility, and accommodate veterans from around the country.”
Anne Campbell, Aiken resident and board member of Saratoga WarHorse, said, “Equine Rescue of Aiken recognized this important healing connection between veteran and horse, and has graciously opened its facility to Saratoga WarHorse and its veterans without charge, hoping classes may begin in late spring 2014.”
It's a dream come true for Jim Rhodes, Equine Rescue of Aiken manager, who has been trying for years to get a program like Saratoga WarHorse at the facility.
Campbell helped to facilitate the process by connecting people with one another.
“It's a great fit for everyone that's involved,” said Rhodes. “Anne Campbell had never been out to the rescue, but was impressed with the facility when she came out. She called Bob (Nevins), and he came down immediately. This is going to be a win-win situation. This is a great place to have veterans, and there are so many positives associated with the program, the community and facility.”

ASPCA Grants $1.4 Million to Assist Equine Groups in 2013

February 7, 2014 

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has announced that in 2013 it awarded approximately $1.4 million in grants to support equine rescues and sanctuaries in 43 states and the District of Columbia.

The grants were primarily awarded as part of the ASPCA Equine Fund, with 20% of the grant money supporting the Rescuing Racers Initiative, which aids in the rescue and rehabilitation of retired racehorses, re-purposing the horses for other areas of the equine world and giving them a new lease on life for events or pleasure riding.
“Thoroughbreds frequently end up at livestock auctions—or worse, are sent to slaughterhouses—when their racing days are over,” said Jacque Schultz, senior director of the ASPCA Equine Fund. “We were thrilled to provide these equine rescues with funds to help them transition ex-racers out of the racing stable and into someone’s show barn or farm paddock.”

New this year was a special opportunity for 50 organizations to receive grants enabling them to receive a one-year membership to the Association of Fundraising Professionals, as well as a scholarship to its 7-module e-learning course, "Fundamentals of Fundraising."
“Many of our grants address specific needs, but this is one grant that keeps giving,” said Schultz. “It helps groups widen their fundraising capabilities, and make major headway toward sustainability.”
Another new initiative in 2013 was the “Hay It Forward,” project, a supplemental program to the ASPCA’s existing Hay Bale Out grants program, which helps feed horses across the United States. The program was designed to raise awareness of equine welfare issues while providing much needed hay to equine rescue organizations. It was implemented at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in March and the Hampton Classic horse show in September.

California, the state with the largest number of equine rescues and sanctuaries, as well as some of the nation’s highest hay costs, led the ASPCA Equine Fund grant recipients with 38 grants. Colorado was in second place with 14 grants, New Mexico and Washington tied with 13 grants each, and rounding out the top five was Florida with 11 grants.

The ASPCA Equine Fund provides grants to nonprofit, U.S. equine welfare organizations who work to rescue and protect horses. The grants benefit equine organizations striving to achieve best practices, including sound horse care, maintenance of updated websites, and robust fundraising practices.

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Owners of a horse slaughterhouse have stated their intent to sue the New Mexico General Attorney for slander and harassment, among other allegations: http://ow.ly/t3xB6

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Ensure that you are covered in horse-related business by beginning your application for a commercial #equine liability policy. #Insurance http://ow.ly/t3xB3

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After the tragic death of actor Paul Walker, Universal Pictures and its insurer must reach an agreement on how to make use of "Fast and Furious 7" #insurance coverage: http://ow.ly/t3xAT

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With many elements going into an #entertainment event, it is essential to have the coverage needed to protect yourself and your #business. Learn more about entertainment #insurance options: http://ow.ly/t3xAR

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Researchers may be closer to understanding bone damage in horses. Through selective breeding and an exercise regimen, horses may experience modification of their bones: http://ow.ly/t3xAN
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