Is your farm secure? That’s a question farmers need to ask themselves says security specialist Larry Wallace.
As traditional rural farm communities become more urban, farms become larger and valuable equipment fills yards and drive sheds. That means farmers need to be more diligent in their security practices, says Wallace, who founded Wallace Risk Management Services in 2007.
He believes the biggest security challenge the family farm faces is complacency. “People say we’re a family farm. We’re safe. No one is going to bother us,” but the 45-year food industry veteran, who has spent the last 25 years concentrating on risk management, security management and food defence, believes that’s no longer the case.
Speaking at the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s annual meeting in late November, Wallace listed a litany of security issues that impact farms. From illegal dumping, to marijuana grow-ops being established in rented farm properties, to stolen equipment and poorly screened employees who pose security risks, the list goes on and on.
Wallace says farmers in general are honest, trusting people and that creates security challenges. “Anyone can drive onto a farm. You often have multiple entrances with no gates and ‘No Trespassing’ signs are nowhere to be seen. A lot of times there’s absolutely nothing to stop people from entering barns.” (continued below)
To make farms more secure, Wallace wants farmers to conduct a simple security assessment of their operation and then build a plan to address security holes. He advises farmers to be honest and ask a series of tough questions including:
- How easy is it to walk onto your property?
- Do you have ‘No Trespassing’ signs?
- Are there gates and signs on all entrances as well as entrances to secondary farms?
- Do you ensure barns and sheds are locked?
- Where do you keep tractor and combine keys? “Leaving them in the ignition so we don’t lose them is not a good strategy,” says Wallace.
- How good is the night lighting in the farmyard and around the house?
- Do you talk to people when they come onto the farm? How much information do you share?
- How much information do you share on social media about your family, your business and your whereabouts?
- Do you do background checks on people who rent residences on secondary farms? “Are they honest people or are they there to steal the copper wire and copper pipe out of the house?” asks Wallace. “Are they there to grow Ontario’s number one cash crop – marijuana?”