HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania State Grange applauds the November 18 vote by the PA House of Representatives to pass legislation providing limited civil liability to farmers seeking to offer agritourism and/or agri-entertainment to the general public. House Bill 1348 sponsored by Rep. Barb Gleim (R-Cumberland) now goes the PA Senate for concurrence. The bill’s rationale is that many struggling farmers need to develop other sources of income to keep the family farm in operation but that fear of lawsuits prevents them from taking this step.
In a letter sent to House members before the vote, the Pennsylvania State Grange stressed the importance of Agriculture as PA’s Number One industry. and said that farmers need to be able to secure additional sources of revenue in these hard times. The letter said House Bill 1348 is a balanced approach that does two things.
First, the farmer is still liable if he or she is grossly negligent in not preparing reasonable safeguards to protect the farm’s visitors. The bill does not void that responsibility.
Second, visitors are reminded explicitly that there are inherent risks on a working farm. Visitors should stay within designated areas, should stay off farm equipment and should not bother animals unless it is part of the properly supervised agritourism experience. This written notification protects the farmer from a lawsuit stemming from a visitor’s unwise behavior or, for example, slipping in animal debris where there are animals.
According to the Grange, there is a third consideration that warrants passage of House Bill 1348. There is already a legislative precedent. Act 93 of 2005 or Senate Bill 618 granted similar limited liability for equine operations.
Following is a link to the legislation and to Rep. Gleim’s sponsorship memo.
–Pennsylvania State Grange