One of the best parts of summer and early fall is buying fresh, local produce from growers in the neighborhood. As a farm stand owner, your customers become your friends. You get to know the families and their likes, you swap recipes, and you offer them new options and traditional food favorites. You feel good knowing that you’re providing locally-grown food to your neighbors, supporting the efforts of farming in your community, and giving high-quality fruits and vegetables to those who stop by your farm stand.
Food Poisoning Can Happen
Unfortunately, though, you’ve also heard of the many instances in our society where produce has caused people to come down with serious illnesses. These can include food poisoning, salmonella, and others. There are news stories each year with food recalls because of contamination that makes people sick.
While the news traditionally carries stories of big companies facing legal battles and insurance claims because of illnesses that have resulted from their foods, there are growers running farm stands across the country, just like yours, who would also benefit from looking into insurance for their businesses.
Product Liability Insurance
The most popular type of insurance for farm stands is product liability insurance, which protects farmers if customers are harmed because of the food they purchase from the farm stand and then consume. Salmonella, listeria, E. coli, and any one of the 250 other identified foodborne diseases can cause significant health damage to a customer. Among the 250 illnesses caused by bacteria, viruses and pathogens, norovirus, campylobacter, C. perfringens, and salmonella are the most common culprits.
Each year, one in six Americans will find themselves sick due to contaminated food or beverage. Typical symptoms include nausea, cramping, diarrhea, and vomiting. However, for many individuals including children, the elderly or those with weakened immune systems, the condition can quickly worsen. Foodborne illnesses are responsible for more than 128,000 hospitalizations and more than 3,000 deaths. In those cases, medical bills can add up to enormous heights, costing customers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As a result, the consumer will often seek monetary compensation to cover the damage done — usually through a lawsuit. If you’re a farmer, food safety planning, certifications and following Good Agricultural Practices can help reduce your odds of a customer getting sick, but only product liability insurance protects you from a potential lawsuit. Should you choose to sell your produce at a farmers’ market as well as at your farm stand, product liability insurance may be a requirement. This protects everyone involved. While the cost may seem excessive, the several hundred you’d spend each year might save you millions in the long run, and may save your farm and business should the unlikely happen and you find yourself involved in a lawsuit over a foodborne illness.
General Liability Insurance
If you run a farm stand, you’ve thought about where to place displays, shelves, carts, and decorative elements to attract your customer. You work to keep your driveway and parking lots cleared, and take precautions to secure your stand.
Accidents Can Happen
There are instances, though, where a customer, whether adult or child, still encounters an accident. They might slip and fall, trip over something, or see their car hit by a cart that is rolling during a windstorm. General liability insurance protects you in those instances, covering the physical bodily and property damage that has occurred because of your actions – whether indirect or direct. It protects you during a negligence lawsuit that would come up should someone injure themselves on your property
Farmers Comprehensive Personal Liability Insurance
This specific insurance policy type protects you from lawsuits brought by farmers, employees, guests, and customers who are involved in on-farm accidents. It only covers actual farming activities, which can include growing and production, as well as selling at the farm stand. Typically, this covers bodily injury or property damage claims.
Commercial Business Insurance
For non-agricultural activities, which can include selling at your farm stand if you are selling a certain percentage of products that you’ve grown, or moving your farm stand to a farmers’ market, this insurance might be a requirement.
While following good farming practices, growing organically, and taking safety precautions both as you grow and in your farm stand can help to reduce your risk of a lawsuit, the best protection is insurance. You’ll be able to operate your business better knowing that should anything happen, you are covered.
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