Just like Colorado's ski areas, farmers and ranchers now enjoy special protection from liability related to the growing business of agritourism. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper last week signed a new law that could help boost more farm visits by tourists while making sure that farm owners don't get dinged by a big lawsuit after an accident.
Agritourism is a fairly new term that showcases the intersection between travel and agriculture; it is a traveler's authentic interaction with farmers, ranchers, hunters, gatherers, artists, naturalists and food enthusiasts that leads to the discovery of geographically distinctive food, drink and experience.
HB 1280 is the result of farmers and ranchers seeking a new level of protection from the State for on-site tourism activities. While in the past farmers were protected from legal action that resulted from mishaps related to tourism activities on the farm, House Bill 1280 offers new protection for the rapidly growing and profitable agritourism industry.
Supported by the 2013 Heritage & Agricultural Strategic Plan, the proposed law limits the liability of farmers and ranchers in activities related to "agricultural recreation activities", or, as redefined in the bill, agritourism.
"With the ongoing support of the legislature and our industry partners, tourism and agritourism in Colorado continues to reach the next level of success," said Al White, executive director of the Colorado Tourism Office. "While visitors may first think of our world-class skiing or climbing our fourteeners when they think Colorado, we're also becoming known for our craft beer, wine and spirits, farmers' markets, farm and ranch stays, U-pick fruit and vegetables, homesteading workshops and more."
The bill passed 35-0 in the Senate on April 21, 2014 and 64-0 in the House on March 12, 2014, and was signed into law on May 6, 2014. The sponsors of the bill were Representative Tim Dore (R-Elizabeth) and Senator Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass Village).
Developing agritourism, heritage and cultural tourism across Colorado was a deliverable under the Colorado Blueprint, the state's economic development plan.
Find a complete summary of HB 1280 here.