Assemblywoman Woerner Pushing to Lower Insurance Costs for Agritourism Businesses

June 12, 2017

Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) announced that legislation she authored, which limits the cost of liability insurance for agricultural tourism businesses, has passed the Assembly for the second time (A.559).

“Agricultural tourism is a critical component of our economy and helps small, family-owned farms succeed here in Saratoga and Washington Counties,” Woerner said. “Addressing the rising cost of liability insurance will make it easier and more affordable for our local farms to offer the apple-picking, Christmas tree-cutting, maple tapping, and other agricultural tourism activities that are so important for our economy, tourism, and communities.”

Woerner’s legislation sets limits on liability risk for owners who take necessary precautions by clearly identifying and marking risks that are inherently associated with farms such as uneven ground, animals and machinery. Twenty-six other states already limit liability exposure for agritourism businesses, and adding New York to the list would help local farms, noted Woerner. The legislation protects farms that diversify their income with apple orchards, pumpkin patches, Christmas trees, winery tours, hay rides and other agritourism ventures.

“Many farmers have had to turn down opportunities to invite the public onto their farm, because they cannot afford the liability insurance necessary to host these programs,” said Jeff Williams, Director of the New York Farm Bureau. “This legislation would clarify the responsibilities of the farm owner and the on-farm participants to ensure a safe experience for family friendly and educational farm activities. Agritourism activities have allowed farms to diversify their operations and add much needed revenue, especially in times of low commodity prices.”

In addition to the New York Farm Bureau, Woerner’s legislation has received strong support from the Small Business Development Center, the New York State Maple Producers’ Association, the New York State Vegetable Growers Association, the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the New York State Horse Council, and New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc.

“The cost for liability insurance keeps going up and it’s unsustainable,” Woerner said. “The rates are prohibiting new farms from opening and current farms from expanding. By creating a uniform standard of liability, we can cut operating costs and boost our agritourism industry.”