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Dairy Feature Friday: Cedar Haven Farm

For Tom Priest, Cedar Haven Farm, Franklin County, crop insurance is a risk management tool that protects his investments.

The third generation dairyman milks 185 registered Holstein cows and farms 500 acres with his family, including father Marvin, nephew Denver and niece Wendy. “For us, it’s not just a business; it’s a lifestyle,” Tom shared. “We always try to include family in everything we do.”

When Tom’s father, Marvin, moved to Franklin County from Maryland, he milked 30 cows. “I was six-years-old when we moved,” explained Tom. “I can remember my older sister milking cows in the new barn.”

In 2002, Marvin and Tom built a free-stall barn for their growing herd. They continued to increase cow numbers through internal herd growth.

Long-time crop insurance customers, Tom remembers that severe drought in the 1980s drove his family to purchase crop insurance. While Tom recalls submitting only a few small claims since then, a more recent drought year reminded him of the risk management tool’s importance.

“We had to buy high moisture corn during a dry year,” said Tom. “The insurance claim helped us purchase that corn for the cows. Without crop insurance, we would have been in trouble.”

“It is peace of mind for the coverage we get,” he continued. “I don’t want to give it up. Crop insurance is a must-have.”

Dairy Revenue Protection (Dairy-RP)

In addition to traditional crop insurance, Tom enrolled in Dairy-RP this fall after learning about the opportunity during an AgChoice webinar. The program can protect producers from volatile market conditions by insuring against unexpected losses in quarterly milk sales.

“It’s all new to me, but with the low milk prices we’ve been through, it makes sense,” explained Tom. “For the protection you gain, Dairy-RP is worth it.”

Tom’s AgChoice crop insurance agent alerted him to the sign up deadline and installed an app on his phone that allows him to review and lock in prices. “My agent understands my lifestyle,” said Tom. “I can trust him to look out for me.”

“While I can’t predict a drought or low milk prices, I can be prepared,” explained Tom. “I definitely recommend AgChoice crop insurance to other farmers. What makes the difference to me is the experience and reliability. The agents understand our business. Once we switched our business to AgChoice, our other agent didn’t stand a chance.”

“We’ve had a great experience working with AgChoice from the loan officers to the crop insurance agents,” Tom shared. “If every ag-related business managed like AgChoice, farmers would be much better off.”


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