Ohio Looks to Minimize AgriTourism Lawsuits

AP writer John Seewer reported recently that, “Farmers who run pumpkin patches, corn mazes and petting zoos say they can’t always stop an aggressive goat from chomping down on a visitor’s hand or prevent someone from stumbling in a field.

That’s why Ohio lawmakers have signed off on legislation shielding farmers with agritourism businesses from being sued when accidents happen.

“Supporters of the measure expected to become law once it’s signed by the governor say it’s an acknowledgement that running a business that brings people onto a working farm poses risks not found in most places.”

The AP article indicated that, “The number of U.S. farms reporting income from agritourism grew by about 40 percent from 2007 to 2012, according to the latest Census of Agriculture.

About half of all states now put limits on liability for agritourism operations, with most being added within the last few years, according to information compiled by the National Agricultural Law Center.”

Mr. Seewer pointed out that, “Ohio’s proposal, like others in most states, does not protect farmers from all lawsuits — only inherent risks such as horse kicking or biting a visitor. A farmer who’s aware of a potentially dangerous situation, such as a dilapidated barn that injures someone, could still face trouble.

“Ohio Farm Bureau Federation lobbyist Brandon Kern said the hope is giving farmers some liability protection will make it easier to get insurance and keep those costs down.”

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