Governor Paul LePage signed Monday LD 1605, "An Act to Promote Agricultural Activity in Maine by Limiting the Liability for Agritourism Activities." At the ceremonial bill signing in the Cabinet Room this morning the Governor was joined by Department of Agriculture Commissioner Walt Whitcomb, Rep. Aaron Libby (R-Waterboro), Rep. Jeff Timberlake (R-Turner), Rep. Dean Cray (R-Palmyra), Rep. Wayne Parry (R-Arundel), Rep. Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan), Jon Olson, of the Maine Farm Bureau, Keith Harris, proprietor of Pumpkin Valley Farm, and Clark Granger, a Christmas tree farmer. The bill was sponsored by Representative Aaron Libby.
This bill limits the liability of agritourism professionals, based on the participants' assumption of the risks of agritourism activities. An agritourism professional is not liable for any property damage or damages arising from these agritourism activities if the participant is notified about the risks of these activities. Notice of the inherent risks of agritourism activities may be satisfied either by a statement signed by the participant or a sign or signs prominently displayed at the place or places where the agritourism activities are conducted. This bill is bringing the agriculture industry with other large landownership sectors.
"Agriculture continues to be a very important part of Maine's heritage, providing many jobs and opportunities throughout the state," said Governor LePage. "We need to encourage farming in Maine, and boosting the income of small Maine farmers' through increasing their product choices and bringing new customers to the farm is all positive steps toward job creation in Maine," continued the Governor. "This legislation expands opportunities in Maine agriculture especially for young farmers," said Walt Whitcomb, Commissioner of Agriculture. "Clearly stated liability and assumption of risks gives this emerging sector of Maine agriculture the green light," added Whitcomb.
The most recent data suggests that agritourism is much more significant for small farms, accounting for 50% of farm income for those farms whose total income is in the $50,000 to $249,000 range. Nearly 25% of the farms surveyed participated in various agricultural promotional events including Maine's Open Farm Day, Maine Maple Sunday, and the Great Maine Apple Day.
Other Public Laws signed on April 9, 2012 include:
An Act To Remove the $100 Reporting Fee for Fertilizer and Agricultural Liming Materials Sold
H.P. 1211 -- L.D. 1602
An Act To Authorize the Registration of Farmland (Emergency Mandate)
S.P. 548 -- L.D. 1649
An Act Related to Specialty Tiers in Prescription Medication Pricing
H.P. 1243 -- L.D. 1691
An Act To Improve Transportation in the State
S.P. 601 -- L.D. 1753
An Act To Protect Landlocked Salmon Fisheries in Schoodic and Seboeis Lakes from Invasive Fish Species
S.P. 643 -- L.D. 1849