State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) praised the recent passage of legislation aimed at boosting the growing agri-tourism industry in rural Ohio. House Bill 80, which unanimously passed the House last month, clarifies zoning and land valuation tax issues for agri-tourism locations, as well as extends certain civil liability immunity for the operators. These changes will help expand the economic opportunities for farmers and vineyard-owners across the state. 

“Agriculture is our number one industry in Ohio. Under this law, Ohio’s farmers will be able to develop activities on their land that help educate the public on the importance of agriculture in our state,” said Rep. Cera, a co-sponsor of the bill.

The passage of HB 80 comes as the agri-tourism industry in Ohio continues to grow.  The number of Ohio farms featuring an agri-tourism component more than doubled to about 650 farms between 2002 and 2012, according to a recent analysis from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. Agri-tourism activities include hayrides, picking pumpkins from pumpkin patches, creating educational programs about produce operations, and purchasing goods from farmers’ markets.

“Agri-tourism provides a means to promote rural Ohio to those who are not accustomed to farm life,” said Cera. “Bringing visitors out onto farms for fun or education helps supplement the business side of farming for Ohio’s growers and helps support the local economy of the nearby towns and villages.”

In order to maintain safety measures and establish immunity protections, agri-tourism providers will be required to post and maintain warning signs near the entrance of an agri-tourism location. Local governments will have the power to regulate the activity site as necessary to protect the health and well-being of the public.

The bill now moves on to the Senate for further consideration.

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