The general Assembly given Illinois agritourism companies a certain reduction in the cost of civil liability insurance. Legislators have passed legislation offering agribusinesses a $1,000 state income tax credit for liability insurance premiums and passed the provisions along with other tax measures to the government. JB Pritzker.
For years, Illinois Agricultural Bureau and the Illinois Specialty Growers Association have worked to resolve agritourism liability issues against stiff opposition from Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA). After years of inaction due to ITLA opposition, Sen. Rachel Aud CroweD-Glen Carbonand Senate The office of President Don Harmon, with the assistance of the representative. Katie Stuart in the House, has actively partnered with the IFB and lobbied each chamber to provide support for agritourism.
Stuart, D-Edwardsville, worked to smuggle relief for Liberty Apple Orchard and other agritourism businesses. “It’s really important to support these small businesses,” Stuart told FarmWeek. “The owners (of Liberty Orchard) and had many conversations. I understand that their view of being outdoors (at the orchard) carries the same risk as you being outdoors in your yard. »
The farmers of Illinois dominate the nation in the production of soybeans, corn, and pork, but some also contribute to the state’s economy by providing immersive and recreational experiences for visitors through pumpkin patch, wagon rides, farms trees, petting zoos and more, Crowe said.
“As small business owners, agritourism operators truly make our state unique by bringing visitors to our communities to participate in authentic farming experiences,” Crowe said. “By providing state relief to agritourism operators for liability insurance premiums, Illinois supports local businesses that promote economic growth across the state and play an important role in teaching our children and families the importance of agriculture in our daily lives. »
“It’s huge for agritourism and local food,” said Marc Raney, IFB Deputy Director of State Legislation. “A lot of people want to profit from these activities, but liability insurance is a huge barrier to this niche market given its high cost.”
Raney noted a recent USDA report showed that 85% of agritourism businesses earn less than $25,000. “These are small businesses,” he added. However, the state Association of Litigators long-standing efforts to provide agritourism businesses with limited liability protection rather than going to court, Raney explained.
“Specialty growers are unique in that we grow fruits, vegetables and herbs for direct use by Illinois families, while inviting our guests to have a fun and educational experience on our farms,” said Randy Grahampresident of the Illinois Specialty Growers Association (ISGA). Because specialty growers work in agriculture and tourism, they “run a higher risk of liability than most,” he noted.
Graham thanked Crowe and Stuart for understanding the needs of specialty growers and their work to ensure adoption of the liability insurance tax credit. He also underlined the success of the partnership between the IFB and the ISGA.
The legislation defines the agritourism businesses that would be eligible for the tax credit for civil liability insurance and specifies the services that would not meet the criteria of the law. Raney explained that qualified agritourism businesses would need certification from the Illinois Department of Agriculture after adopting new rules.
Eligible agri-tourism businesses include those offering on-site historical, cultural and educational programs, tours, animal exhibits and petting zoos, crop mazes, pick-your-own harvests, horseback riding, hay wagon and sleigh rides.
Under the law, ineligible businesses only offer hunting, fishing, rodeos, amusement rides, mountain biking or motorized activities, outdoor recreation, and serve as wedding and concert venues .
For agritourism businesses, liability insurance is very expensive. “We hope the income tax credit will ease that burden,” said Raghela Scavuzzo, IFB’s Associate Director of Food Systems Development and ISGA’s Executive Director. “We hope this credit will inspire them to continue doing business and stimulate new agribusiness ventures.”
This story was distributed as a cooperative project between Illinois Agricultural Bureau and the Illinois Press Association. For more food and agriculture news, visit FarmWeekNow.com.