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Natiowide News: Offering agritourism? Be sure you’re covered

Published Aug. 23, 2011 | Discuss this article on Facebook
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Buckeye Farm News

Your Liability Risks May Have Increased

If you haven’t joined the growing sector of farmers who’ve ventured into “agritourism,” chances are it’s something you may at some time consider. Based on USDA estimates, about 52,000 U.S. farms — or 2.5 percent of total farms — earn income from agritourism. The attractiveness of agritourism continues to grow as more consumers look for locally grown products, as well as for interactive social, educational, and outdoor activities.

The terms agritourism and “agritainment” encompass a spectrum of activities, ranging from on-farm stores to corn mazes. Petting zoos, haunted houses, hayrides and summer festivals are other examples of attractions that bring increasing numbers of urban dwellers onto farms for leisure, education and entertainment.

Rewards and risks

Besides additional income, farmers are encouraged by how these businesses can increase the public’s understanding of and appreciation for the role of farming in the American economy and food supply.

It’s important, however, for farmers to understand the increased liability that comes with inviting the public onto their premises.  Legal responsibilities for agritourism exposures are unique, compared to those associated with traditional production farming operations.

“Studies have shown that farming is one of the nation’s most dangerous occupations,” said Jerry Hillard, farm sales director, Nationwide Agribusiness. “That risk increases dramatically when producers market their farms to attract the public. And the risks are especially high when children are involved.”

Talk to your insurance agent

Farmers who offer agritourism activities need to discuss their specific types of businesses with their insurance agent.

“It’s important they get coverage for the activities they conduct on their farm premises. Usually, the policy that provides liability for the farm business does not extend to liability from other profit-making activities,” said Hillard.

“Nationwide Agribusiness is rooted in agriculture, with strong ties to the Farm Bureau. Our company recognizes that we must make changes to continue properly serving our policyholders,” adds Hillard. “We offer liability coverages that can be written as a package, in conjunction with a farm policy, to cover agritourism or agritainment ventures."

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