Bill would make agri-tourism easier

Published 12:12 am Monday, June 2, 2008

VIDALIA — Agricultural tourism might be about to get the boost supporters say it needs.

House Bill 633 has passed the House and is in committee in the Senate. It’s passage would make it easier to start agriculture-related tourism businesses.

Introduced by Rep. John F. “Andy” Anders, the bill would limit the liability an agriculture-related tour producer would have to face in the event of an accident — including death — caused by an “inherent risk” associated with agriculture.

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“This bill will open door for corn mazes or pick your own vegetables operations to be able to afford insurance for their operations,” Anders said. “It’s hard for them to find affordable insurance in our area.”

The bill defines inherent risk as “dangers or conditions that are an integral part of an agritourism activity including certain hazards, including surface and subsurface conditions, natural conditions of land, vegetation, and waters, the behavior of wild or domestic animals, and ordinary dangers of structures or equipment ordinarily used in farming and ranching operations.”

The bill also includes negligent behavior on the part of the agri-tour participant, such as failure to follow instructions by the tour guide or failure to exercise reasonable caution, as a risk inherent to agritourism.

Likewise, the bill defines agritourism any activity — paid or unpaid — that is “carried out on a farm or ranch that allows members of the general public, for recreational, entertainment, or educational purposes, to view or enjoy rural activities, including farming, ranching, historic, cultural, harvest-your-own activities or natural activities and attractions.”

Even though Anders hopes this particular measure will have more of an effect, its primary aim is to ensure agritourism producers can get insurance, Anders said.

“We’re not guaranteeing it will bring rates down really low, but you can at least guarantee they (producers) will get it (insurance),” he said.