Pennsylvania’s New Agritourism Limited Liability Law and What it Means for Farmers
At the end of June, PA enacted a new law entitled the Agritourism Activity Protection Act, designed to encourage agritourism in the state through protecting farm owners from civil liability for injuries and damages sustained while participating in an agritourism activity. The law went into effect September 1, 2021, so farmers should prepare the proper notice and agreement provisions detailed below and understand the law to take advantage of this added protection!
The law defines an “agritourism activity” as "a farm-related tourism or farm-related entertainment activity that takes place on agricultural land and allows members of the general public, whether or not for a fee, to tour, explore, observe, learn about, participate in or be entertained by an aspect of agricultural production, harvesting, husbandry, or rural lifestyle that occurs on the farm.” Activities not included under the protection of this law are those that include overnight accommodations, weddings, concerts, and food and beverage services. So, the bill will largely protect operations that have activities like corn mazes, u-pick, hay-rides, etc.
An agritourism provider has to take steps, however, to get the liability protection. A provider gets the limited liability when:
The provider posts the required warning sign (see below); and
The provider enters into a written agreement with the participant that meets the requirements of the law (more on that below).
There are also exceptions to this limited liability protection, which are the activities detailed above that are expressly not included, and if the agritourism provider:
Purposefully causes a participant's injury.
Acts or fails to act in a way that constitutes criminal conduct.
Recklessly fails to warn or guard against a dangerous condition that causes injury or damages to a participant. A “dangerous condition” is a condition that creates an imminent and substantial risk of injury or damages to a participant.
Because the law requires a posted warning sign and a written agreement, it also details what those must include:
Written Agreement requirement: In addition to the notice, you have to have a written agreement between the farm and each participant OR print the required language on a ticket required for access to an agritourism activity and the language must meet the following requirements:
The written agreement is signed before the participant engages in an agritourism activity.
The written agreement is signed by the participant or, if the participant is a minor or care-dependent person, the participant's parent or guardian.
The written agreement is in a document separate from any other agreement between the participant and the agritourism activity provider, except for a document that includes a different warning, consent or assumption of risk statement. So if you already use another waiver or liability agreement, this language can be added and incorporated.
The written agreement is printed in not less than 10-point bold type.
The written agreement contains the following language:
"AGREEMENT AND WARNING: I understand and acknowledge that, except for limited circumstances listed below, an agritourism activity provider is not liable for any injury to or death of a participant resulting from an agritourism activity. I understand that I have accepted all risk of injury, death, property damage and other loss that may result from an agritourism activity. I understand that an agritourism activity provider is not protected from liability if the provider:
(a) Performs an act in a grossly negligent manner and causes injury or damages to a participant.
(b) Purposefully causes a participant's injury.
(c) Acts or fails to act in a way that constitutes criminal conduct.
(d) Recklessly fails to warn or guard against a dangerous condition that causes injury or damages to a participant. A dangerous condition is a condition that creates an imminent and substantial risk of injury or damages to a participant.
Farmers can check out the full text of the law and get acquainted with all its provisions to ensure compliance: HERE (trust me, it’s not too long ;)).
The key next steps are to review what activities you do on your farm may be covered by the law, and how to have the proper signage and agreements ahead of the effective date and just in time for fall farm events. And we already took care of having a proper waiver for you! Check it out in our Template Library: https://www.trellispgh.com/product-page/agritourism-liability-waiver
And remember, you can always reach out to Trellis for additional help with language, procedures, and contracts!
DISCLAIMER: This blog post is meant for informational purposes only and does not constitute specific legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Readers should discuss their specific situation with an attorney.