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On Thursday, April 1, the Iowa House Agriculture Committee passed Senate File 356.  Senate File 356 creates a new Code Chapter (673A) that will be titled as the Iowa Agricultural Tourism Promotion Act.  The bill limits the liability of certain persons involved in agricultural tourism on a farm when a cause of action by a visitor to the farm alleges an injury, loss or death due to any of the following—

  • an inherent risk of farming associated with a farming activity;
  • the failure of the agricultural tourist to comply with instruction while visiting the farm; or
  • the injury, loss of death occurred at a place a reasonable person would not enter. which may be based on a posted notice.

SF 356 further provides that a farming activity includes both the production or maintenance of a farm commodity on an agricultural tourism farm and the on-farm processing of a farm commodity produced on that farm.  The persons shielded from liability includes—

  • a person who owns or leases the agricultural tourism farm,
  • a person engaged in managing the visit, and
  • a person contributing labor or managerial decision making to the farm’s operation.
  • As a condition of being able to plead an affirmative defense to liability, a notice must be posted in  conspicuous where the agricultural tourist first enter the premises.

The measure provides for several exceptions to the shield  from liability, including if—

  • An act or omission was illegal, intentional;
  • The result of willful misconduct, gross negligence, or incompetence, or recklessness due to:
    • intoxication,
    • failure to notify an agricultural tourist of a dangerous latent condition of a farm,
    • a condition or event existing at the agricultural tourism premise that was not reasonably foreseeable to person generally familiar with farming, but would be foreseeable at another type of agricultural tourism farm.

During Committee consideration of the bill it was amended to remove a requirement that the agritourism premise location includes the homestead as defined by the Code section concerning property tax definitions and the premise location must be comprised of at least a 40-acre parcel.  The amendment also broadens the definition of ‘Farm crop’ to include ornamental produce (such as flowers, nonedible pumpkins/squash/gourds) and increase the lists other common other fruits and vegetables.

Author: Jon Thorup


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