Farmers and agri-businesses operating in Northern Ireland are becoming increasingly exposed to litigation and costs associated with regulatory enforcement.
The warning was made by Richard Henderson, Head of Agri-Insurance at Autoline, in light of the current slurry ban which regulates how slurry can be spread.
Mr Henderson was speaking at the launch of a new legal protection policy which has become available in Northern Ireland for the first time.
Speaking at a staff training event in Greenmount Agricultural College, Mr Henderson said: “In recent years, there has been a marked increase in legislation that farmers must comply with and measures such as the slurry ban could see a wide range of farmers becoming exposed to new regulatory enforcement.
“For some time rural businesses in GB have been able to avail of products such as ‘Rural Protect’ which provide 24/7 legal protection and cover defence costs against all UK regulators. Autoline has become the first broker in Northern Ireland to be able to offer ‘Rural Protect’ which, among other things, offers access to a general legal helpline.
“Farm partnerships and sole traders can now receive the same level of protection as directors of limited companies. The cover will also provide defence and support against investigations, prosecutions and warnings from all UK regulators and enforcement agencies.”
The product was launched as Autoline farm executives, account handlers and claims teams met at Greenmount for their annual training seminar. The day also involved a tour of the campus livestock enterprises, and included the beef, sheep and dairy units.
Mr Henderson added: “Rural businesses are professional, commercial operations and they should be able to avail of the same level of cover and advice as other sectors.
“We believe that ‘Rural Protect’ meets an important gap in the market and will give business owners access to support in areas including Single Farm Payment appeals, employment, HR, taxation, health and safety, the environment and other legal matters.”
The cover also includes professional fees incurred in defending an allegation and provides access to PR expertise and costs in the event of an incident.
For more information, please visit www.autoline.co.uk/farm