Host Safer, More Legally Secure On-Farm Events

From Farm Commons

“Events are a wonderful way for farmers to deepen their connection with customers. After visiting the farm, customers walk away with a deeper understanding of sustainable agriculture, farm life, and the source of their food. At the same time, events make business sense; they build customer loyalty and product gets sold. To meet these goals, farmers must make sure that hosting events doesn’t expose the farmer to greater legal liability. If things go wrong, on-farm events can be create tremendous legal problems. Farmers reading this guide will learn about the various ways things can go wrong and ways to prevent problems. Specifically, farmers will learn about potential problems with zoning codes, disability accommodations, food service regulations, tax permits, insurance, and injuries.

For example, farm events, such as tours, may not be allowed under the zoning code. If neighbors- even someone one mile down the road- gets upset with the increased traffic, noise, litter, parking on the roadway, or other inconveniences, they may complain to the local zoning authorities. If that happens, the zoning authorities may scrutinize whether the event is permitted under the zoning code. Even if agriculture is allowed under the zoning code, farm events may not be allowed.

Although this guide may seem overwhelming at first, it helps to break things down into a few simple tasks. First, check your zoning code. You will find all sorts of other interesting information about farm buildings, residential requirements and more in there, so it’s well worth your time. Second, talk with your insurance agent. Be prepared to discuss the events you offer and ask about endorsements or adding a CGL policy. Third, be cautious about farm-provided meals at events. If you want to open on-farm food service, be prepared to make a significant investment of time, energy, and money to stay on the right side of the law.”

Visit Farm Commons’ website to download the guide.

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