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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: May 30, 2017 03:40 PM
From: Senator Ryan P. Aument
To: All Senate members
Subject: Agritourism
In the near future, I intend to introduce legislation that would provide uniformity and protection for agritourism activities in Pennsylvania.

Many farm families face significant challenges in keeping their farms viable long-term from income generated solely through agriculture commodities and need supplemental sources of income to sustain the family’s farm business. To that end, more and more traditional farmers are finding alternative uses for their land in a growing industry called agritourism.

Agritourism activities provide education and entertainment to the general public for the purpose of promoting agriculture while providing an additional revenue stream outside of the normal commodity price swings. Further, agritourism has the additional benefit of helping consumers connect with farmers and build a deeper appreciation for Pennsylvania agriculture.

It is my hope that this package of agritourism legislation will provide clarity and protection to those who offer such activities and encourage others to provide agritourism activities on their own farms.

If you have any questions regarding these bills, please contact Stephanie Buchanan at 717-787-4420 or sbuchanan@pasen.gov.

Document #1

Introduced as SB819

Description: My first bill would ensure that agritourism activities are considered and treated as part of agriculture authorized on farms preserved under the state farmland preservation program.
Currently, each county farmland preservation board has the ability to set its own standards for what is defined as agritourism.  This legislation would create uniformity across the Commonwealth, allowing farmers, regardless of their location, to take advantage of the growing popularity of agritourism.
The bill protects the original intent of our nation-leading farmland preservation program by stipulating that any agritourism activity must not prevent the land from being immediately converted back to agricultural use.
Farmers who have put their land in farmland preservation programs have made a strong investment in the future of agriculture and this legislation gives them one more tool to help preserve open space and vital farmland.

Document #2

Introduced as SB820

Description: My second bill would provide some protection from civil liability for owners and operators of agritourism activities.
Because many activities involved in the agritourism business are frequently not covered by customary farm liability policies, farmers face a number of challenges in securing adequate coverage.  Under current Pennsylvania law, these entrepreneurial farmers face enormous liability risks when opening up their land to the public.
Agritourism activities involve inherent risks that are impossible to eliminate.  It is only reasonable that those who choose to participate in these activities should voluntarily assume part of that risk. 
My proposal protects owners from lawsuits where no party is at fault for the injury or damages.  While the measure provides immunity from litigation in some cases, the right to sue is preserved if an owner is grossly negligent, displays willful or reckless disregard for the safety of the participant or intentionally causes injury.
A similar proposal was introduced as Senate Bill 720 of the 2015-2016 session and was co-sponsored by: Senators Gordner, Mensch, Yaw, Vulakovich, McIlhinney, Stefano, Rafferty, White, and Brooks.