Tag: agritourism

Maryland Farm Bureau Hosts Legislative Day

maryland farm bureau hosts legislative day
Annual Day in Annapolis Brings Farmers, Legislators Together

DAVIDSONVILLE, MD. (February 10, 2022) — Maryland Farm Bureau (MDFB) hosted its annual Day in Annapolis yesterday to give its members the opportunity to stay up-to-date on legislation affecting farming and rural communities and to visit with their legislators. The format, virtual due to the Maryland Capitol’s pandemic closure, allowed for nearly 50 legislators and 120 farmers to interact, with an issues briefing, questions, and break-out sessions.

“We know how important these bills are — especially their implications for Maryland’s farming community. Thank you to all of the legislators and staff for taking the time to learn how these issues affect our ability to grow and raise food, fiber, and renewable fuel, as well,” said Wayne Stafford, MDFB president.

Proposed legislation that MDFB is currently following are bills moving pesticide regulation from Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) to Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE); deer and wildlife damage to crops and privately owned farmland; permitting and air quality regulations; and the right to repair farm equipment.

“The right-to-repair bill helps to ensure that all sizes of farms can continue to operate to meet time-sensitive needs of crops, and aren’t dependent on huge companies,” said Delegate Lorig Charkoudian. “I know large equipment companies are fighting this, so we should look out for the small family farmer. I’m 100% with Maryland Farm Bureau on this and happy to continue to move that forward.”

MDFB’s list of priority bills include the following, which it supports:

  • SB 296/HB 558: Establishes a definition for “agritourism” with regards to land use. It adds camping and incidental outdoor stays to the state’s definition of agritourism.
  • HB 562: Requires farm equipment manufacturers to provide farmers the capability and tools needed to repair their own modern farm equipment, so that they are not dependent on over-committed technical service providers during the busiest times of the year for farming.
  • Various bills establishing funds to help urban agriculture, such as HB 855 with water and power infrastructure.
  • SB 800: Sales and use tax exemption for agricultural electricity.
  • Various bills allowing the management of deer/wildlife on private and state-owned property to reduce widespread destruction of crops, such as SB 497/HB 592, and in Baltimore County SB 427/HB 682.
  • SB 582: Provides that if a landowner directly invites or permits an individual to use their property for hunting, the invited individual assumes all responsibility and liability for their own safety.

 

A number of bills introduced during this session would make farming more difficult in Maryland.

“Several of these bills would cause undue burden and hardship on Maryland farmers while costs related to operating a farm today continue to rise,” said Colby Ferguson, MDFB director of government and public relations. “Some of these bills ignore decades of conservation management efforts and best management practices farmers have put in place to protect air and water quality and soil health. Farmers build a livelihood for themselves and their families right next to or on the same land in which they grow crops and raise livestock; being good stewards of the environment is always in their best interest.”

Maryland Farm Bureau opposes the following bills:

  • HB 11: Excludes many energy sources derived from agricultural production from the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.
  • SB 268/HB 387: Would move pesticide regulation from MDA to MDE.
  • HB 596: Grants Marylanders standing to intervene on any state application process if they believe another’s action or permit interferes with any of their rights to a clean environment.
  • HB 798: Would create a new government bureaucracy to enact costly air quality requirements for farms above and beyond existing environmental quality standards.
  • HB 496: Establishes the requirement of all employers of all sizes (including self-employed) to pay into a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program.

“If we don’t use ag sources such as biomass and thermal energy as renewable energy sources, then all of that waste has to go somewhere not beneficial and is a nuisance,” said Senator Stephen Hershey, on HB 11. “It’s important to continue educating all of our colleagues on how various renewable energy is actually produced and utilized as opposed to negative assumptions based on not understanding.”

Bob Cissel, a Montgomery County farmer, addressed the deer damage and wildlife management bills. “Our deer damage problems in Maryland are like if you had a store and in the mornings you woke up and 9% of your inventory was gone,” he said.

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MARYLAND FARM BUREAU®, INC. is a 501(c)(5) federation that services as the united voice of Maryland farm families. Our organizational strength comes from the active participation of over 10,000 individual and family members who belong to the state’s 23 local county Farm Bureau organizations. Since 1915, Maryland Farm Bureau has been committed to protecting and growing agriculture and preserving rural life. Maryland Farm Bureau® is a proud member of the American Farm Bureau Federation. Learn more at MDFarmBureau.com.  

Media Contact:
Amber Pearson | Maryland Farm Bureau, Inc. (TSN Communications)
573.268.6853 | amber@tsncommunications.com

Benefits and risks of adding agritourism to your farm or ranch

Benefits and risks of adding agritourism to your farm or ranch

The following information is provided by Nationwide®, the #1 farm and ranch insurer in the U.S.*

Agritourism is a great way to capitalize on the natural draw of your landscape, connect non-farm families to agriculture and create new revenue streams for your operation. But these benefits are not without risk.

Finding the right agritourism for operation
Adding a new agritourism venture to your operation starts by answering a simple question: What will work best? Consider the following:

  • Your land, what you raise and any other resources that could contribute to a new attraction
  • The time and money you can invest in an agritourism venture
  • Potential hazards to visitors, the liability they create for you and how you’ll mitigate the risks and keep people safe

Agritourism examples to consider

  • Pumpkin patches and corn mazes. Fairly common around the country, they’re popular but can require a lot of time and labor.
  • Farm tours and hayrack rides. Also fairly common, opening your farm to the public for tours and offering services like hayrack rides provide up-close farm experience. They often vary widely on cost, supervision and risk exposure.
  • Bed & breakfasts. An unoccupied farm house or even a repurposed barn or other farm building offer farm guests distinctive overnight stays. Time and labor required are normally fairly high.
  • Experiences. Ranging from “U-Pick” farms and Christmas tree farms to barn rentals for events like weddings, these also can range widely in cost, supervision and risk exposure.
  • Classes. Weekly or monthly classes on things like jam- or bread-making can be an easy, low-cost option.


Minimizing the risks of agritourism
Before adding agritourism to your farm or ranch, think about the specific risks you and your visitors will face and how you’ll mitigate them. This includes simple things like trip and fall hazards all the way to specific risks around livestock, farm equipment and food safety. Conduct a thorough audit of these types of risks and start by taking steps to minimize the hazards they represent.

“Check with your state for any agritourism protective measures and talk to your insurance agent for guidance on mitigation measures and how you can expand your insurance coverage,” said Neal.

Talk with your insurance agent
Farmers who offer agritourism activities need to discuss their specific types of businesses with their insurance agent. Usually, the policy that provides liability for the farm business does not extend to liability from other profit-making activities, such as agritourism.

Your local Nationwide Farm Certified agent can help you identify risks, implement safe practices and confirm you have the right agritourism insurance in place. Nationwide offers liability coverages that can be written as a package, in conjunction with a farm policy, to cover your agritourism ventures.

Visit AgInsightCenter.com to see the latest articles, videos and podcasts. While you’re there, sign up to receive our bimonthly AIC email newsletter.

*A.M. Best Market Share Report 2021.
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