|Posted:||December 4, 2020 01:45 PM|
|From:||Senator Judy Ward|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||Agritainment: Exempting Agriculture Buildings from the Uniform Construction Code|
|I plan to reintroduce Senate Bill 453 of last session, legislation providing an exemption for barns and other structures from the requirements of the Uniform Construction Code (UCC), which are used at various times throughout the year as a venue for weddings or special events if certain requirements are satisfied.
I sponsored this legislation in response to concerns I received from constituents in my district who were told by a local code enforcement officer that the use of their barn for weddings or special events must come into compliance with the UCC because the structure is not being used solely for agricultural purposes. There is a real concern that having to fully meet the modern building code standards will be cost prohibitive, thus making it difficult for farm owners to utilize their buildings for new purposes and provide a secondary income stream to the family farm. My proposal would exempt agriculture buildings from the UCC requirements provided that the building meets basic safety standards (e.g., smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, no smoking, proper egress). It would require portable toilet facilities (unless permitted facilities are provided for on the grounds) and require posting of maximum occupancy of the building. This measure attempts to provide a reasonable balance between a farmer’s desire to repurpose their buildings for use in social events and the need to protect the safety and welfare of the public.
Recognizing the challenges and difficulties that family farms face today in keeping their operations profitable and preserving their farms for the next generation, farmers are looking to supplement their income by offering agritainment or agritourism activities on their land. According to Penn State Extension, “Agritainment activities are defined as farm-related tourism or farm-related entertainment activities that are permitted or authorized in return for a fee on agricultural land for recreational or educational purposes.” Such activities, which include corn-mazes, pumpkin picking patches and farmers’ markets, are helping to breathe new life into family farms. A growing trend is barn weddings. A 2017 annual wedding survey indicated that 15% of couples in the U.S. held their wedding reception in a farm or barn, which is up from 2% in 2009.
Pennsylvania has a rich farming heritage and agriculture contributes over $83 billion to our state’s economy. I would like to ensure that farmers who undertake agritainment activities like weddings and special events as a means to support their farm are not hampered by costly rules and regulations.
The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is supportive of this measure.
Senate Bill 453 passed the Senate last session but failed to be considered in the House prior to the close of the legislative session.
Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.
Introduced as SB191