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INTERVIEW: AG First Offers Agents Expertise, Accessibility Into the AgriBusiness

By Annie George

Posted on 20 Jun 2011

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This week we're featuring ProgramBusiness storefront, AG First, of Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services, Inc., which is one of the world’s largest insurance brokerage and risk management services firms. AG First offers coverage solutions in the agricultural commercial business sector.

We spoke with James Bush, Program Director of AG First, who has been with the firm since 1993 and has always been involved with the company in some type of program or niche business. Prior to joining Gallagher, he worked as a CPA for the same type of risks insured under AG First, bringing with him a great deal of insight and experience in grain elevator operations, cotton gin operations, and other classes of businesses. He is part of the Baton Rouge operation where the program is serviced. 

“The AG First program has been in existence for about 15 years,” said James. “We more or less started the program as a result of us writing a lot of agricultural business on a retail basis, and then decided to open it up to other agents and brokers, which led to where we are today.”

The program is designed to provide Commercial General Liability, Property, Crime, Inland Marine, Commercial Auto, and Umbrella coverage for eligible agribusiness accounts supporting or servicing the traditional farming risks. This includes co-ops, farm supply stores, feed and seed stores, feedlot operations and fertilizer distributors, grain storage, grain milling and cotton gins, sugar mills, produce handling, cotton warehouses, fish and crawfish processing, etc.

“We insure the agribusiness risks that service the farms –basically we write the suppliers and the processors,” said James. “We don’t insure the farms themselves.”

What makes the program unique is how easy it is to work with AG First. “With this particular class of business, there aren’t many carriers that write these clients,” explained James. “And if they do write the business, they require a commitment to bring a book of business. Our program is open access and easy access. We will write only one account and, unlike many of our competitors, we don’t require a large book of business.”

“We also provide expertise to agents unfamiliar with these risks. If an agent has a good relationship with one of these types of risks but has not written the coverage before, we’ll be glad to help and walk him or her through the process to make sure it’s a good risk and something we can write.”

The program is available on a national basis, excluding California and Florida, and continues to be a solid business even in a struggling economy. “The agribusiness is strong,” said James. “In fact, some commodity prices have recently experienced an all-time high. Cotton, for instance, is probably at a150-year price high and several other commodities such as corn are up. The strong grain prices filter down to everyone in the business.”

James explained that although most of AG First’s business is concentrated in the Southeast and Texas, they are looking to grow in the Midwest and Northwest, and welcome talking to agents interested in this market and looking for a company with the expertise and accessibility they can count on.  We’ll entertain most commercial agribusiness risks including supplying, servicing, and processing. 

For more information, you can contact James at 1-601-863-3154 or via email at