Practical Security Points for the Ranch

Published on Thu, 07/21/2022 - 11:04am

Practical Security Points for the Ranch.

 By Jaclyn Krymowski.

 Sufficient ranch security can be defined in many ways. Historically, rural areas have felt security with relatively low-input measures such as a farm dog or latched gate. But in an age of cyber hackers, agroterroism and desperate criminals, farms and ranches are easy targets that easily fall between the cracks due to a false sense of security provided by virtue of remote location.

Fortunately, we live in an era where more security equipment (even technically advanced) is becoming more and more affordable.

American Family Insurance notes that boosting farm security measures protects livestock and property and prevents others from wandering onto your property, which can cause legal issues.

Common Security Weaknesses
The best place to start, as suggested by Perdue University in a bulletin titled Farm security: Where to begin, when it comes to security is identifying and assessing your farm or ranch for vulnerabilities. This assessment can help identify equipment installation or training protocols that need to be added to new employee orientatio

The range of what an operation wants to protect can span from keeping livestock, facilities and crops safe to the safety of farm data and other assets. Some of these may take priority over one or another. However, a universal first step of overall property safety has some way to secure the premises physically.

Physical security encompasses gates/fences, locks on buildings and equipment, and surveillance and/or alarm systems. Whenever possible, modern locks should be in place on major gates leading to livestock and facilities (especially from a major roadway) and on important buildings like offices and equipment sheds.

As a “final defense” against trespassers, keys should never be left in ignitions, doors, or hanging in obvious and unprotected places. This same mindset should be applied to any valuable objects or data that are left unattended during off-hours.

Another common security pitfall is giving undue trust to employees, especially new hires. According to the Extension Disaster Education Network, many historical agricultural/ food system cases of terrorism, theft, vandalism, etc., originate from personnel issues.

Systems should be in place to supervise new hires - both for safety and to ensure proper protocols are followed, but also to not open opportunities for theft or vandalism. Likewise, a thorough onboarding process should include a close examination to ensure no individual joining your team has ulterior motives and connections to questionable networks like animal rights activists.

That said, employees are, of course, an important asset and making sure that the right hires are made for your farm or ranch is pertinent. However, a few systems should be in place to ensure anyone you hire is reliable and trustworthy with a clean background. Something as simple as requiring references and a bit of internet research can help avoid major pitfalls.

It’s also vital that all personnel you hire know the security measures you have in place and know how to follow them. Let them know who is and is not allowed on your property, how to secure gates, buildings and equipment, and established protocols on what to do in the case of trespassers and other security breaches. Some higher-level employees may need to be involved with any cameras or other defense systems that are in place.

Don’t forget to let your team know that your security measures are also in place to safeguard them and their working environment. Their participation in security measures protects not only your business but also them as well.

The Extension Disaster Education Network notes that the vigilance and loyalty of employees can be attained by keeping a good line of communication open and maintaining healthy relationships with them.

Protocols and implementation
An easy prevention measure can be as simple as posting signage around the ranch, whether it be “private property” or “no trespassing”. This can deter unaware neighbors or hikers from wandering onto your property.

Besides the tried and true methods of gates, chains and locks, there are also more technological security measures that are becoming more and more affordable. Cheap security cameras and times or motion-activated lighting can be big assets in deterring potential thieves or vandals who feel more secure operating under cover of dark.

This also helps employees working late hours be more aware of the environment and detect unusual situations. Don’t be shy about placing cameras in plain sight and posting signage - this presence alone could deter potential threats.

A lesser-considered security aspect is how certain things should be managed when you or your employees are away for a period of time. For example, it may be advantageous to delay certain scheduled deliveries until someone is there to receive it, or arrange for someone else to receive them in your absence. Be wary of giving keys and easy access to delivery drivers, sales reps and other individuals who occasionally visit your property.

If you keep a very regular working schedule, stay conscious of who is aware of the hours when no one is around. Being too open about your working hours, especially if you live off your main properties, may entice thieves and other trouble makers.

Security resources
Having a good relationship with local authorities is a great place to start regarding security measures. Not only does some familiarity build up a good rapport and help address situations as early as possible, but law enforcement is often helpful at developing security protocols and vulnerable pain points on your property.

State and local extension services are another security resource available to farms and ranches. They can provide some education and help you keep aware of any current security threats in the area or suspicious activity that has occurred.

In addition, to professional resources and local authorities, building a community amongst neighbors can be quite valuable..

Perdue University advises coordinating with other neighbors to assist in security needs by helping each other keep an eye out or communicating suspicious activity can be a proactive measure. Having a list of the neighbors with the best way to quickly get in touch readily available can be a simple resource and security addition.

Some elementary physical and planned protocols can strengthen the security of your operation. A secure farm or ranch is essential to maintaining efficient operations and protecting your family’s and personnel’s safety.

Security can be a vital part of the operation to help the day-to-day operation run smoothly and assist in potentially eliminating any risks of outsiders being on the property.