Farms that provide agritourism opportunities can face unique legal risks that can be managed through liability insurance

Nationwide News: Inviting the public onto your farm can increase liability

Buckeye Farm News

Corn mazes, hayrides, boo barns and pumpkin patches. There are lots of ways to attract visitors and extra income to farms in the autumn.

Tens of thousands of U.S. farms now earn income from agritourism. The attractiveness of agritourism continues to grow as more consumers turn to farmers and ranchers for local products, as well as for interactive social, educational and outdoor activities.

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

However, it’s also important for farmers to understand the increased liability that comes with inviting the public onto their premises.

Agritourism can encompass a wide range of activities, from u-pick operations to petting zoos and farm markets – all designed to bring increasing numbers of urban dwellers onto farms for leisure, education and entertainment.

Legal responsibilities for agritourism exposures are unique compared to those associated with traditional production farming.

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

Farmers who become involved with agritourism activities need to discuss their specific types of businesses with their insurance agent. “Usually, the policy that provides liability for the farm business does not extend to liability from other profit-making activities,” Hillard said. “So it’s important that they get coverage for these additional activities.”

“Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance, with its roots in agriculture and strong ties to Farm Bureau, recognizes that we must make changes to continue properly serving our policyholders,” he added. “That’s why we offer additional liability coverages that can be written as a package, in conjunction with a farm policy, to cover agritourism ventures.”Nationwide Agribusiness is the farm and agricultural arm of the Nationwide group of companies, and is the No. 1 farm insurer in the United States.

For more information about farm coverages, contact a nearby Nationwide Insurance agent.

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