"Agritourism" is a new term for the intersection of
adventure tourism and agriculture. According to the State of
Colorado – a traveler's interaction with farmers,
ranchers, hunters, artists, naturalists and food enthusiasts that
leads to the discovery of geographically distinctive experience,
food and drink. According to a recent US Census of
Agriculture, the number of agricultural producers who take part in
agritourism activities has grown to about 900 in Colorado alone,
contributing some $30 million to farm income and a total economic
impact of over $2 billion annually in the state. The state
actively promotes agritourism with an eye toward rural economic
development through activities as diverse as farm and ranch stays,
farm-to-table dinners, winery tours and the like.
To help spur development of the industry, in 2014 Colorado
passed legislation limiting the liability of farmers and ranchers
in activities related to "agriculture recreation
activities", i.e. agritourism. Colorado statute
13-21-121 provides that an agritourism operator cannot be held
civilly liable for the injury or death of a participant resulting
from the inherent risks of the activity and that the participants
of such activities assume the risk and legal responsibility for any
injuries arising from such inherent risks. "Inherent
risks" include dangers and conditions such as equipment
complexity and malfunction, location, ground conditions, weather,
animal behavior, negligence of other participants, and more.
Importantly, the law does not protect agritourism operators from
their own gross negligence or willful or wanton disregard for the
safety of the participant, intentional misconduct, or for their
knowing use of faulty equipment.
The law also requires operators to exercise reasonable care to
protect against known dangers, to give warning of dangers
ordinarily present on the property and to provide notice of
inherent risks through a statement signed by participants or
through prominent placement of signs that contain statutorily
Because the law is so new, we expect that litigation will arise
over time to define its specific boundaries. While the law is
a welcome step in addressing liability, of agritourism operators,
operators need to be diligent in their compliance to ensure their
protection is maximized.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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