In 2013, the Florida Legislature passed SB 1106, a bill that protects and strengthens agritourism opportunities for Florida’s farmers and ranchers.
Agritourism combines Florida’s two largest industries of tourism and agriculture.
This allows farmers to open their agricultural land to the general public for education and entertainment as long as the activity relates directly to agricultural production.
Unfortunately, before this legislation became law in 2013, Florida’s farmers and ranchers were faced with several challenges.
These barriers prevented farmers from taking advantage of the opportunity agritourism could provide. Agritourism owners and operators faced increasing regulation at the local level and a heavy burden of liability, keeping farmers from inviting the public on their land and finding other beneficial uses of their agricultural land.
The intent of SB 1106 was to break down those barriers of local regulation and liability for agritourism operators. But to do that, the definition of agritourism had to be changed to ensure a direct linkage between agritourism and actual agricultural production.
As a result of the legislation, Florida Statute 570.86, defines an agritourism activity as “any agricultural related activity consistent with a bona fide farm or ranch or in a working forest which allows members of the general public to view or enjoy activities related to farming, ranching, historical, cultural or harvest-your-own attractions for recreational, entertainment or educational purposes.”
This definition indicates that to receive any of the protections provided by the statute, an agritourism activity must be directly linked to a farm, ranch, or forest that is actually in production and that it must be an activity that is related to agriculture.
According to Farm Bureau, with less than two percent of Americans living on a farm, the public is becoming more and more removed from farming practices and agricultural production.
Consumers are more interested than ever in learning where their food comes from, and the technological advancements behind producing that food. Agritourism provides an excellent opportunity to open meaningful connections between agriculture and the public. The vast majority of farms depend on the outside income to stay in business, and any additional revenue agritourism could provide a farm might significantly increase its economic viability
This liability protection should not be considered a total substitute for insurance protection. However, in most instances, agritourism owners and operators who use diligence in considering the well-being of their guests will be protected from frivolous lawsuits.
- It is the intent of the Legislature to promote agritourism as a way to support bona fide agricultural production by providing a secondary stream of revenue and by educating the general public about the agricultural industry. It is also the intent of the Legislature to eliminate duplication of regulatory authority over agritourism as expressed in this section. Except as otherwise provided for in this section, and notwithstanding any other provision of law, a local government may not adopt or enforce a local ordinance, regulation, rule, or policy that prohibits, restricts, regulates, or otherwise limits an agritourism activity on land classified as agricultural land under s. 193.461. This subsection does not limit the powers and duties of a local government to address substantial offsite impacts of agritourism activities or an emergency as provided in chapter 252.
- The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services may provide marketing advice, technical expertise, promotional support, and product development related to agritourism to assist the following in their agritourism initiatives: Enterprise Florida, Inc.; convention and visitor bureaus; tourist development councils; economic development organizations; and local governments. In carrying out this responsibility, the department shall focus its agritourism efforts on rural and urban communities.
570.86 Definitions.—As used in ss. 570.85-570.89, the term:
- “Agritourism activity” means any agricultural related activity consistent with a bona fide farm, livestock operation, or ranch or in a working forest which allows members of the general public, for recreational, entertainment, or educational purposes, to view or enjoy activities, including farming, ranching, historical, cultural, civic, ceremonial, training and exhibition, or harvest-your-own activities and attractions. An agritourism activity does not include the construction of new or additional structures or facilities intended primarily to house, shelter, transport, or otherwise accommodate members of the general public. An activity is an agritourism activity regardless of whether the participant paid to participate in the activity.
- “Agritourism operator” means a person who is engaged in the business of providing one or more agritourism activities, whether for compensation or not for compensation.
- “Farm” means the land, buildings, support facilities, machinery, and other appurtenances used in the production of farm or aquaculture products, including land used to display plants, animals, farm products, or farm equipment to the public.
- “Farm operation” has the same meaning as in s. 823.14.
- “Inherent risks of agritourism activity” means those dangers or conditions that are an integral part of an agritourism activity including certain hazards, such as surface and subsurface conditions; natural conditions of land, vegetation, and waters; the behavior of wild or domestic animals; and the ordinary dangers of structures or equipment ordinarily used in farming and ranching operations. The term also includes the potential of a participant to act in a negligent manner that may contribute to the injury of the participant or others, including failing to follow the instructions given by the agritourism operator or failing to exercise reasonable caution while engaging in the agritourism activity.
570.87 Agritourism participation impact on land classification.—
- In order to promote and perpetuate agriculture throughout the state, farm operations are encouraged to engage in agritourism. The conduct of agritourism activity on a bona fide farm or on agricultural lands classified as such pursuant to s. 193.461 does not limit, restrict, or divest the land of that classification as long as such lands classified as agricultural remain used primarily for bona fide agricultural purposes.
- Local governments and agricultural representatives shall meet for the purpose of discussing the benefits of agritourism to local economies and opportunities for cooperation, conflict resolution, regulatory streamlining, and incentives.
- Except as provided in subsection (2), an agritourism operator, his or her employer or employee, or the owner of the underlying land on which the agritourism occurs is not liable for injury or death of, or damage or loss to, a participant resulting from the inherent risks of agritourism activities if the notice of risk required under s. 570.89 is posted as required. Except as provided in subsection (2), a participant, or a participant’s representative, may not maintain an action against or recover from an agritourism operator, his or her employer or employee, or the owner of the underlying land on which the agritourism occurs for the injury or death of, or damage or loss to, an agritourism participant resulting exclusively from any of the inherent risks of agritourism activities.
- In the event of the injury or death of, or damage or loss to, an agritourism participant, subsection (1) does not prevent or limit the liability of an agritourism operator or his or her employer or employee or the owner of the underlying land on which the agritourism occurs if he or she:
- Commits an act or omission that constitutes gross negligence or willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the participant, and that act or omission proximately causes injury, damage, or death to the participant; or
- Intentionally injures the participant.
- The limitation on legal liability afforded by this section to an agritourism operator or his or her employer or employee or the owner of the underlying land on which the agritourism occurs is in addition to any limitations of legal liability otherwise provided by law.
570.89 Posting and notification.—
- Each agritourism operator shall post and maintain signs that contain the notice of inherent risk specified in subsection (2).
- A sign shall be placed in a clearly visible location at the entrance to the agritourism location and at the site of the agritourism activity. The notice of inherent risk must consist of a sign in black letters, with each letter a minimum of 1 inch in height, with sufficient color contrast to be clearly visible.
- Each written contract entered into by an agritourism operator for the provision of professional services, instruction, or the rental of equipment to a participant, regardless of whether the contract involves agritourism activities on or off the location or at the site of the agritourism activity, must contain in clearly readable print the notice of inherent risk specified in subsection (2).
- The sign and contract required under subsection (1) must contain the following notice of inherent risk:
- WARNINGUnder Florida law, an agritourism operator is not liable for injury or death of, or damage or loss to, a participant in an agritourism activity conducted at this agritourism location if such injury, death, damage, or loss results from the inherent risks of the agritourism activity. Inherent risks of agritourism activities include, among others, risks of injury inherent to land, equipment, and animals, as well as the potential for you to act in a negligent manner that may contribute to your injury, death, damage, or loss. You are assuming the risk of participating in this agritourism activity.
- Failure to comply with this section prevents an agritourism operator, his or her employer or employee, or the owner of the underlying land on which the agritourism occurs from invoking the privileges of immunity provided by this section.
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