Warnick agritourism legislation approved by Senate

Bill would expand protections for agricultural producers who host tourists

Today the state Senate approved Senate Bill 5808, sponsored by Sen. Judy Warnick, chair of the Senate agriculture committee, that would limit liability for ranchers and farmers engaged in agritourism activities. The legislation was approved 42 to 6 and goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

“We want to promote our agriculture industry and agritourism as a great way for people to learn more about where their food comes from, and create better understanding of the life of our agricultural producers for those in urban communities,” said Warnick, R-Moses Lake. “Life on a farm is hard, sometimes dangerous work, and this bill clarifies liability when they open up their operations to the public to cut down their own Christmas trees, or pick their pumpkins for Halloween.”

Public testimony on the legislation indicated that in Kittitas County alone there are at least 15 such agritourism operations, providing millions of dollars to the local economy. Twenty other states have similar laws on the books aimed at clarifying and limiting liability for agritourism.\

“Insurance premiums for this industry have become very expensive, increasing by 400 percent in two years,” said Warnick. “We need this clarification to help family farms be more economically viable, engage with broader audiences, and have some protections when they are acting responsibly.”