New Law Reduces Agritourism Liability Risk

New Law Reduces Agritourism Liability Risk

Legislation passed last year makes it easier and safer to invite visitors onto farms and ranches.

The North Dakota Tourism Division has a new program to promote agritourism .

The state legislature passed a law last year that provides liability protection for registered producers who invite the public to visit their farms and ranchers.

Eligible entities include all of North Dakota's working farms, ranches, gardens, wineries or agricultural operations that open their property to the public for enjoyment, outdoor recreation, activities, education, shopping, dining or lodging.

Bird watching is one of the new agritourism activities that more farms and ranches could offer now that a new law provides additional liability protection.

"Farms and ranches participating in agritourism activities are most often smaller niche operations that can provide urban residents with hands-on experience and an up-close-and-personal snapshot of rural life," says Dean Ihla, tourisum development manager.  "In addition to these, we would also like to see larger producers involved in agritourism. It's an opportunity to educate visitors on current farm and ranch operations while showcasing our rich agricultural heritage."

The registration includes a description of the activity or activities conducted, and the location of the agritourism operation.

Registered operators will be promoted by the Department of Commerce in conjunction with all other tourism and rural development promotions.  The timing and level of promotion, such as seasonal or "by appointment only" operations, will be based on the amount of business each operator is prepared to handle. There is no fee for registration, which is valid for five years.

One agritourism provider to recently take advantage of the new legislation and register his business is Rod Hogen with Red Trail Vineyard. Located near Buffalo, N.D., Red Trail Vineyard grows and harvests its own grapes and makes wine, which visitors can taste in the on-site tasting room.

"We're excited about the additional promotion assistance we'll get from North Dakota Tourism, as well as the liability protection, thanks to the Agritourism Liability Act," Hogen says. "Since starting our business almost 10 years ago, we've done well. But, we're looking forward to attracting even more visitors."

Ann Hoffert, owner of Pipestem Creek Bed and Birding is another agritourism provider who has registered her business with North Dakota Tourism and sees the many benefits of this growing tourism opportunity.

"I've hosted visitors from around the nation who come to North Dakota for our unique birding opportunities. I enjoy sharing my life-long passion of birding with my visitors, while exposing them to the great quality of life here on our rural Carrington grain farm."

For more information on becoming an agritourism operator, please contact Ihla at the Tourism Division at [email protected] or by calling 701-328-3505.

Source: ND Tourism Division
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