Be grateful when it rains.
Be insured when it doesn't.
Our Agricultural Beginnings
Raford’s grandparents settled on a farm west of Rotan in 1906. The family almost lost that farm to the drought of 1917-1918. Finally, it rained, and they made a bumper crop in 1919. That wheat crop literally saved the family farm, which Raford and his wife, Lana, continue to own and operate.
The Hargrove family continued farming, despite the unpredictability of the market. In 1973, cotton had been 62 cents per pound, yet the following year in 1974, prices dropped to 24 cents per pound. Gross income went from $387.50 per acre to $31 per acre. At the time, there was no insurance to bridge the financial gap between a good year and a bad year. They enjoyed some good years, but they also had to weather several more bad years. In 1981, the Hargrove family made a great crop, but prices crashed again.
In 1982, things got worse. It was a bad year for crops, almost no one had crop insurance, and credit was drying up quickly. Raford saw that the community needed a crop insurance agent so devoted himself full time to crop insurance. Hargrove Crop Insurance officially began in 1983.
Starting Crop Insurance
In 1983, Raford found that in order to calculate crop insurance cost and coverage properly, he needed a computer and computer software. He bought an IBM personal computer, and (with some help) wrote the first computer program to properly calculate cost/coverage, maximizing benefits and minimizing cost. During this time, he discovered a mistake in the Federal Crop Insurance’s rating system—they were over-charging people for skip-row cotton. Rates for the following year (1984) were going to rise about 50% higher than they should have been—something no one could afford. He went to the regional offices of Federal Crop Insurance in Oklahoma City and Kansas City trying to get the rates fixed. The bureaucrats would not listen to him.
Fighting for Farmers
Raford told his father that he was going to have to close the business, but his dad suggested he go to Washington DC and see their Congressman, Charlie Stenholm. Raford said, “It will cost another $1000 to go to Washington,” but his dad retorted, “What is it going to cost you to close your business?” So Raford went to Washington. Charlie Stenholm told the head of Federal Crop Insurance to listen to Raford Hargrove. This time they did, and the FCIC fixed the rates.
Raford went home, re-programmed his computer with the new (as yet-unpublished rates), and flooded West Texas with advertising. For two weeks, Hargrove Crop Insurance was the only agency with the new, lower rates. Other agents told farmers we didn’t know what we were doing, or that we were crooks trying to get farmers to sign up with cheap rates that did not exist. Then, the FCIC published the new rates, and Hargrove Crop Insurance was vindicated.
Continued Work in Agriculture
Today, Hargrove Crop Insurance concentrates on Multi-Peril Crop Insurance for cotton, wheat, grain sorghum, and corn. Hargrove Crop Insurance works all over Texas, and concentrates its operations in the Rolling Plains area as well as the Coastal Bend surrounding Corpus Christi. Our main office is in Rotan, and we also maintain service offices in Haskell and Anson.
In addition to running the crop insurance business, Raford takes special, very personal, interest in other USDA programs for farmers. His custom-built computer software now uses the individual client’s insurance datafiles to forecast the amounts of, and maximize, FSA program benefits.
Raford is joined in his work by his daughter in-law Amy Hargrove (Texas A&M ‘96), Ty and Lauren Cross (husband-wife graduates of Texas A&M ‘17), and long-time employees Lance McWilliams, Carol Boyd, Vickie Etheredge, Amy Elrod, Julie Casey, and Kathy Teichelman.
We have always felt honored to serve people in production agriculture and to help them make better, more informed risk management decisions. We have a farming and ranching heritage and share your values of faith, hard work, family, and generational land stewardship. But just as important, we have a commanding use of technology to help you evaluate available programs and to leverage these programs to improve the profitability of your operation.
To view more info about our people, click or tap on their pictures.