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Agri-tourism bill to protect local farmers and orchards from lawsuits

A local farmer is on a mission to protect businesses like his from lawsuits.
CHILTON, Wis. (WFRV) - A local farmer is on a mission to protect businesses like his from lawsuits.

He is part of the team behind a new bill that will impact apple orchards, pumpkin patches and even the popular breakfast on the farm program

"It is what we call a feel good bill, everybody wants to get it done" explains David Meuer.

The Chilton area farmer is on his way to Madison to testify Wednesday about the agricultural tourism bill he helped create.

"It basically makes the public aware that is a farm. Things can happen, things do not always go right. You need to be responsible and pay more attention to what you are doing on the farm" he says.

In a nutshell, if a cow steps on your foot it is not the farmers fault.

"Mom and dad go to a breakfast on the farm. They park their car in the hay field. Little Johnny is in a hurry to go see those cows and he trips falls and breaks his arm" Meuer says giving an example.

The bill will cover a wide range of operations including breakfast on the farm and farm technology days.

"It could be a Christmas tree cutting farm, a strawberry farm, pumpkin picking, corn maze" he says.

"You will see a lot of Ag tourism businesses that are going to grow out of this, who feel that there is now accountability and they are not scared of a lawsuit every day" says Steve Peterson, President

of Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association.  

Meuer runs a corn maze and pick your own produce business. He learned firsthand, the need for a liability law.

"This is the 6th year of doing this now. We have had no accidents, no injuries. Last year I was dropped by my insurance company . They said you have too many people coming out, too many activities going on we do not want to cover you anymore".  

The bill has been put on the fast track with bipartisan support.

"I have talked to the governor and he said he will sign the bill as soon as its ready to go, he was surprised we did not have a law on the books because we are so strong in agriculture and tourism" Peterson says.  

26 states already have similar bills.

It is scheduled for a vote next week in the assembly. The senate could get the bill the next day.

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