By Julie Tomascik
Agritourism is a growing trend fueled by consumers, and fall is a season with prime opportunities to dive into outdoor activities.
Those farm visits help consumers connect the dots in agriculture, but agritourism venues could put landowners at risk.
“Anyone who is having folks come out to their property needs to have a good liability insurance policy,” Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, agricultural law specialist, said.
Additional statutes, Lashmet noted, do offer limited protection to landowners who use their property for hay rides, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, agricultural field days and other activities.
The Agritourism Act, which was passed in 2015, offers limited liability to landowners who open their agricultural land for recreational or educational purposes, regardless of compensation.
The statute requires landowners to post specific language warning visitors of potential hazards on the property or to have a waiver signed.
Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) offers agritourism liability signs that meet the language requirements.
The signs are available for $4.
“Agritourism continues to grow each year,” Regan Beck, TFB director of Government Affairs, said. “These signs allow landowners who want opportunities to get folks outdoors and reconnected with agriculture a way to feel more secure about some of the unforseen liability issues. But the Agritourism Act isn’t a substitute for insurance.”
The Texas Recreational Use Statute also applies to landowners who use their property for recreational purposes if it meets one of the three monetary criteria: a fee is not charged; the fee charged by the landowner is less than 20 times the amount of ad valorem taxes paid by the landowner last year; or the landowner maintains insurance coverage as defined by the statute.
“It’s free limited liability. But if you’re going to have folks out on your property, take a moment to inspect and tour the property,” Lashmet said. “See if there is anything that needs to be fixed or put up warning signs in areas that could be dangerous. Doing that on the front end could save you time, stress and money later.”