Agritourism Liability Bill Advances in State Senate

A bill that would limit civil liability for farms that invite the public onto their property for agritourism activities, one of Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s top legislative priorities, is a step closer to becoming law.

The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee voted unanimously this week to send House Bill 101 to the full Senate for consideration. The bill cleared the state House of Representatives with a bipartisan vote in February.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Barb Gleim of Cumberland County, would offer commonsense legal protection to farms that invite the public onto their property for agritourism activities, such as corn mazes, pick-your-own produce, hayrides, and similar attractions. Specifically, the bill would grant farms that offer agritourism activities reasonable protection from lawsuits that arise from circumstances beyond their control as long as they warn visitors of the inherent risks of being on a farm. At the same time, farmers would still need to take steps to ensure guest safety.

The bill is modeled off similar laws already on the books in at least 20 other states, including New York and Ohio.

Reforming civil liability for agritourism has been a longtime priority for PFB and other agriculture organizations. The measure passed the state House last fall with a bipartisan vote. The Senate then passed the legislation as part of a separate bill related to COVID-19 but that measure was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf. Wolf cited concerns about the COVID-19 measure as the reason for his veto and did not signal any objection to the agritourism bill.