Would you like to visit a pizza farm? Watch a newborn lamb take her first steps? Help a farmer with planting or harvesting?
You can help make these and other fun and educational opportunities more possible by contacting your representative TODAY! The Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee will be deciding at a hearing at 2:00 on February 4th to pass through new agritourism legislation.
The new legislation, Agritourism bill SF152, will ease some of the barriers that farmers face in welcoming guests to their land.
As interest in knowing your farmer and where your food comes from continues to climb, so does the growing curiosity in the actual farms that produce our food. There are few better ways to gain an understanding of the food system than actually visiting a farm - but it's not that easy. Farmers are sometimes reluctant to invite guests onto working farms because of the liability it exposes them to. This legislation will make it safer for farmers and their guests.
With this legislation in place, farmers would be freer to show their customers the practices and day-to-day operations of the farm and potentially open new markets for their product, and guests would know that the farms they are visiting have considered the potentially hidden hazards of that farm.
Farmers who are reluctant to invite volunteers to gather produce for foodshelves, or even help with mundane chores like gathering hay for the coming winter will now feel more comfortable accepting help. Farmers will also be able to add "farm tours" as an income opportunity, diversifying their revenue streams, and they will feel more confident inviting folks to a farmstand to market their product directly to customers.
In some ways, farms are inherently dangerous. Even a roll of fencing, a rooster or a slippery driveway can pose a danger. The legislation does not cover farm owners who are clearly negligent or hiding dangerous pitfalls. The proposal also doesn't change food safety laws or regulations - nor will it keep farmers from carrying insurance. It will just help farmers sleep a little easier (not to mention their insurance agents!).
Use this link to find your legislator, then call or email them to voice your support. To be honest, if a Senator or Representative gets 5 emails they think "the sky is falling" and that there is significant support for a proposal. Your reaching out really does matter... to them, and to us! Leave us a comment below when you have contacted your public servant/representative!
All you need to do is call and say, "I'm a constituent of (DistrictABC) and I'm calling in support of SF152." Make sure to say you're a constituent -- goes further. Also, my understanding is that phone calls still go further than e-mails. All the staffers do is make a tally of contacts. Leaving a message is OK too. If you want to join Renewing the Countryside at the Capitol tomorrow - the hearing in the Senate Ag. Committee is at 2:00 - wear yer "sunday-goin'-to-meetin'-shoes!"
Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee
Chair: Dan Sparks (27, DFL)
Vice Chair: Matt Schmit (21, DFL)
Ranking Minority Member: Gary H. Dahms (16, R)