Bill to protect Agritourism sites from civil lawsuits

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ELEVA, Wis-- A new bill aims to protect Wisconsin farmers from lawsuits brought on by visitors to their farms.

The Republican-sponsored 'Agricultural Tourism Bill' was approved by the State Assembly Friday.

The bill will offer farmers who open their farms up to tourist’s immunity from civil liability if a guest gets hurt while visiting.

“It’s always a concern that someone is going to get hurt in your establishment,” said Carlene Schultz, owner of the Schultz’s Country Barn and Pumpkin Patch in Eleva, Wis.

Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association says less than one percent of our nation's consumers live on farms.
While Ag Tourism is a growing industry many visitors don't realize that a working farm can have potential risks.

“With the animals we have to be very very careful; that children don't put their fingers in the animal’s mouths as well as adults, because animals bite,” explained Schultz.

She says on her nearly 70-year-old farm that serves as a pumpkin patch, a petting barn and a rental event venue, safety is number one priority.

“When you go out in the corn maze there is a sign there that say ‘please be careful’, corn leaves can cut as much as a razors can cut your hand,” said Schultz.

She says even with safety talks and warning signs if people don't follow the rules they can get hurt.
“For one, you (talking about herself) would feel very bad and two, there are always people that are very quick to probably sue you,” she added.

The 2013 Assembly Bill 746, if passes, will protect farmers like Schultz from civil law suits, if establishment guests neglect sings warning about the hazard and get injured.

“Aside from your liability insurance, you also have that protection that you know, tells you follow the rules and everything will be fine,” said Schultz.

Schultz calls her farm safe and says in seven years the barn has been operating as an attraction thousands of people went through, without any serious incidents.
To see the language of the bill 746 visit the link on the side of this page.

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