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06/14/2024 09:36 PM
Pennsylvania State Senate
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20230&cosponId=38145
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: December 2, 2022 02:23 PM
From: Senator Judy Ward
To: All Senate members
Subject: Agritainment: Exempting Agriculture Buildings from the Uniform Construction Code
 
I plan to reintroduce legislation that provides a limited exemption for barns and other structures used for special events from the requirements of the Uniform Construction Code (UCC). This was Senate Bill 191 from the 2021-22 session.
 
I sponsored this legislation after constituents in my district 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 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 on the grounds) and the posting of the building’s maximum occupancy. This measure provides a reasonable balance between a farmer’s desire to repurpose buildings for use in social events and the need to protect the public’s safety and welfare.
 
Today’s farmers face serious challenges as they try to keep their operations profitable and preserve their farms for the next generation. Many 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 percent of couples in the U.S. held their wedding reception in a farm or barn, which is up from 2 percent in 2009.
 
Pennsylvania has a rich farming heritage and agriculture contributes over $80 billion to our state’s economy. I would like to ensure that farmers who undertake agritainment activities like weddings and special events to support their farm are not hampered by costly rules and regulations.
 
The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau was supportive of this measure least session. Co-sponsors of Senate Bill 191 were Senators Aument, Baker, DiSanto, Hutchinson, Langerholc, Mastriano, Phillips-Hill, Pittman, Regan and Stefano.  
 
Please join me in cosponsoring this important legislation.  If you have questions regarding this legislation, please reach out to Greg Beckenbaugh in my office at 717-787-5490 or gbeckenbaug@pasen.gov.
 



Introduced as SB116