By State Representative Steve Huffman
As Ohio’s number one industry, agriculture is incredibly important to the well-being of our state. I am pleased to report that the Ohio House of Representatives recently passed House Bill 80, a piece of legislation designed to protect the budding agritourism industry. Agritourism is any agriculturally related educational, entertainment, historical, cultural, or recreational activity conducted on a farm that is open to members of the public.
The main purpose of this bill is to protect Ohio’s farmers from unjustified litigation. This legislation, sponsored by my colleague State Representative Tony Burkley, would give agritourism providers a general immunity from liability in a civil action for any harm a participant sustains during an agritourism activity, if the participant is harmed as a result of a risk inherent in the activity.
HB 80 is supported by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, which is a great indicator that this bill will support Ohio’s agriculture industry. I take advocating for agriculture seriously, and I am confident that this bill is beneficial for the farmers I represent in Miami and Darke counties.
Another provision of the bill prevents counties and townships from adopting unnecessarily burdensome zoning laws that prohibit agritourism activities. The General Assembly’s effort to ensure that agritourism activities will be available for recreational and educational purposes in communities across the state not only benefits farmers, but also the general public.
House Bill 80 passed the House unanimously last month and is currently being evaluated in the Senate. I hope to see this bill move through the legislative process so that we can help encourage agritourism in our state by protecting Ohio’s farmers from unjustified litigation.
As your state representative, I encourage you to contact me regarding this or any other state government related issue. By working together, we can continue to support Ohio’s number one industry.