For Immediate Release: June 25, 2021
CAMP HILL, Pa. – Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) is calling today’s passage of House Bill 101 by the General Assembly a victory for farms and the public that will help family farms remain viable through a changing farm economy and connect with their communities around family fun and local food.
The legislation, which now goes to Gov. Tom Wolf for his signature, offers 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 be required to take reasonable 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.
PFB President Rick Ebert offered the following comments:
“This commonsense legal reform will help Pennsylvania’s family farms preserve their futures so they can continue to grow their rural communities and enhance our state’s agricultural heritage. The agricultural economy is changing, and farms need to innovate to stay viable. Here in Pennsylvania, many are doing just that by offering agritourism experiences to a public that is growing more and more interested in local food.
“House Bill 101 addresses a key barrier for farms that want to offer agritourism: the threat of frivolous lawsuits. Farmers prioritize safety; but farms are natural environments and it’s impossible to eliminate every hazard. This reform will enable Pennsylvania farm families to safety invite the public to experience agriculture without having to risk their farms’ futures or pay cost-prohibitive insurance premiums.
“PFB thanks the General Assembly for taking this important step to strengthen Pennsylvania agriculture and urges Gov. Wolf to act quickly to sign this reform into law. We are especially grateful to Rep. Barb Gleim, who introduced and championed this legislation, as well as the Republican and Democratic chairs of the House and Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs committees who prioritized and helped build bipartisan support for this issue.”
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization, representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.