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Help farm customers build weather and climate resilience

September 27, 2023

Weather and climate-related disasters are increasing in frequency and severity around the country. It’s a call for both the right short and long-term planning and prudent, resilient construction to ensure your customers’ farms and ranches aren’t lost when the worst happens.

  • Eighteen weather and climate-related disasters ranging from drought to wildfires caused $165 billion in damage in 2022.1
  • The National Weather Service has reported around the same number of damaging tornadoes and high winds in the first half of 2023 as in any of the last five years.2 Damaging hail was ahead of the previous pace.
  • Meanwhile, wildfires — one of the hazards that’s grown the most in frequency in recent years — are causing twice the damage to the landscape than they did a few decades ago.3

Growth trends like those are a call for a two-phase approach to helping your customers make sure they’re adequately managing the risk such severe conditions can create.

Identify the most likely weather- and climate-related disaster scenarios

It starts with assessing the most likely severe weather hazards in your customers’ geography so they’re accounted for in their risk management strategies.

Drought has ravaged parts of the western U.S. in recent years. But that hazard is comparatively non-existent in places like the mid-South and Delta regions. The latter regions can incur hurricane damage whereas customers in the upper Midwest are more prone to severe winter weather. The National Weather Service (NWS) Climate Information portal includes reports of historical weather and climate data that can help identify the hazards that are most likely on your customers’ operations.

Those types of disasters — and everything in between — can cause massive damage to farms and ranches in their paths. That’s why it’s important to match specific policies and endorsements to the specific hazards your customers are most likely to face. But that’s important not just in offering the right policy options. It’s also of utmost importance to ensure the right coverage level is in place so damages incurred by such disasters are adequately covered.

Make sure customers build resilient farm structures

Awareness of most likely hazards is just the first step in building climate and weather disaster resilience. The next step in a comprehensive risk management plan is ensuring customers are doing everything they can to lessen or avoid damage altogether. Nationwide advocates for climate-resilient building codes and standards, as well as their enforcement.

At the farm level, you can encourage customers to work with trusted, experienced building contractors who understand likely hazards. Doing so can help make sure any new construction is compliant with building codes and meets or exceeds common ratings that dictate the severe weather hardiness of a new farm building, for example.

But working with qualified, experienced builders can also add cost to a renovation or new construction, especially if your customer has their own experience in construction. And that can lead to reluctance to employ higher-cost yet more qualified builders. That’s where programs like BinStrongSM from Nationwide come in.

The BinStrong campaign helps build awareness about grain bins rated to withstand higher winds, thereby lessening wind damage risks from severe storms. Sharing such information can enable you to ensure customers’ new grain storage facilities are resilient to wind damage that accompanies severe storms that are growing in frequency in part of the U.S.