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|Anders says bill will ease burdens on agritourism businesses|
Rep. Andy Anders announced this week that a bill easing the burdens on agritourism businesses in Louisiana is on the verge of passage.
Similar to existing law covering equine, all-terrain and farm animal activities, House Bill 633 provides for the defining of agritourism activities and provides a measure of limited liability for the risks inherent in those activities.
"What it does is allow rural folks to get insurance for activities that can help them increase income on their land outside of planting season," Anders said. "If we help agritourism get going, it has the potential to really complement the existing tourism in our area."
Under the bill, each agritourism activity, whether a corn maze in Vidalia, a cotton gin tour in Frogmore or a Christmas tree farm in Ferriday would need to be recognized by the Commissioner of Agriculture as an official agritourism activity. The LSU AgCenter would then follow with a certification of each individual business to ensure it operates properly under the law.
Prominently displayed signs at each agritourism activity site would warn visitors that the operator of the activity is not liable for injury or death caused by the inherent risks of the specific activity. Agritourism operators are not protected from liability in the event of "willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the participant," however.
"We're not giving operators carte blanche to do whatever they want," Rep. Anders said. "We just want to make sure they have a level playing field on which to operate."
HB 633 sailed through the House by a 97-1 margin on May 13. The bill made it through a Senate committee last week and will head to the full Senate for debate possibly as early as this week.
"Through the process there have been a few tweaks here and there to tighten up some wording, but I'm thrilled that it essentially is going to the Senate as we wrote it," Anders said. "Sen. Thompson has been a great partner in this and we look forward to getting it passed."
Upon passage, the bill will go back to the House where the two versions will be reconciled before going to Governor Bobby Jindal's desk. Anders said he anticipates the governor will sign the bill.
"With the Department of Agriculture, the LSU AgCenter, Farm Bureau and everybody we've got on board, I don't know why he wouldn't sign it," he said.
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