May 10, 2016
An agritourism bill is headed to Gov. John Kasich’s desk for approval after the House approved it May 5, following the Senate’s earlier approval. Senate Bill 75 addresses concerns about zoning, liability and how land for agritourism is taxed. The governor is expected to sign the bill into law.
New legislation designed to protect agritourism
The bill, which follows model legislation developed by Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, limits the authority of a board of county commissioners or board of township trustees to prohibit agritourism through zoning. It clarifies that conducting agritourism activities on farmland does not disqualify land from inclusion in the Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) program and establishes immunity in a civil action for agritourism providers.
The bill specifies that landowners would have to post signs warning participants there is no liability for injury or death associated with the inherent risks of agritourism activities. Inherent risks, defined in the bill, include conditions of the dangers associated with equipment and animals, as well as participants acting in a negligent manner.
“Having this bill pass opens the door for more farmers to participate in agritourism activities or expand their operations because it provides clarity on several regulations and addresses concerns about liability,” says OFBF Executive Vice President John C. (Jack) Fisher, pointing out that the bill does not absolve farmers from any liability. “Having supplemental income from agritourism activities will help some farmers keep their farmland.”
Ohio’s agritourism options are diverse and include farm stands, corn mazes, u-pick fruit farms and farm tours.
The Senate bill was sponsored by Bob Peterson, R-Sabina, and Shannon Jones, R-Springboro, while Rep. Tony Burkley, R-Paulding was the sponsor of the House version.
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