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Eight Unique Legal Ways Agritourism Protects You!

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Eight Unique Legal Ways Agritourism Protects You!

Over the last two articles, I have discussed what agritourism is, what some of the rules surrounding it are, and how it can benefit you. In this article, I will be exploring the legal and tax protections that agritourism offers.

  • Keeping and Expanding your Tax Benefits

Ben Franklin once said that death and taxes are the only two unavoidable features of life, and he was not wrong. While agritourism will not prevent your farm from having to pay taxes, it allows your business to qualify for a CAUV reduction, homesteading protections, or other tax credits, and keep those that you already have in place. In addition to maintaining your existing credits, by expanding your business and exploring different fields of service, you could qualify for additional taxing credits and possibly even federal grants.

  • Keeping the Zoning Inspector at Bay

One of the primary advantages of agritourism is that it allows you to run an additional business while also running a functioning farm. This means that certain zoning rules, like classification of property, or paved parking requirements, are not applicable to your property. Certain codes, especially if they relate to safety or health, will remain applicable.

  • Making a Dry Township Wet

By limiting the rights of a county or township zoning inspector, agritourism allows you to convert your hops into beer, and your grapes into wine, right on your own property. If you also expand into an associated brewhouse, winery, or similar concept, you can qualify to sell that beer or wine to the general public, or use that property to host certain events that otherwise were not permitted.

  • Keeping the Fire Marshall at Bay

Unlike the zoning inspector, the majority of what a fire marshal inspects is directly related to health or safety concerns. That said, a number of these concerns are related to the classification of the property, not the use, and thus would not apply to an agritourism business.

  • Pipelines, Mineral Rights, and Easements are not Impacted

Generally speaking, your easement or pipeline will not be impacted by the transformation of your farm into agritourism. Most agritourism activities only occur in a designated area of the property, an area you likely already use for farming or similar activities and can be limited away from any easement or pipeline route. Likewise, because most agritourism activities occur on the surface, they will generally leave your mineral concerns unharmed.

  • Saying Goodnight to County and Township Bed Taxes

With the rise of self-booked B&Bs, renting rooms for a night, and other internet-based rental styles, counties and townships have expanded their bed taxes from hotels only, to any lodging. By turning your property into an agritourism business, it could be possible to avoid some of these taxes or transform them into a lesser camping tax rate.

  • Creating a Liability Shield

If you’ve ever been in an orchard, you know that weeds, sometimes of a poisonous variety, will grow. If you’ve ever been around a horse, you know that eventually it will buck, or kick. These dangers are inherent on farms and ranches, and transforming your business into agritourism does not require you to eliminate these risks. Instead, the law provides a liability shield for agritourism businesses, which will apply to most general farming and rural risks. This shield will not protect against all liabilities, however.

  • It is Easy to Add Agritourism to your Existing Policies and Concepts.

Agritourism is not a completely new business, it is technically an extension of your existing agricultural use. This means that many of your insurance policies, taxing systems, contracts, and, importantly, internal business structures, can be adapted to allow for the expansion.

In order to qualify for any of these protections, not only does your farm has to meet certain requirements under the law, but you also have to follow very specific regulations. Further, the law requires your farm to post very specific signs, under specific conditions, to ensure that these protections are triggered. In my next article, I will discuss those qualifications and requirements further.

If you are looking to explore your farm’s future, White Law Office, Co. has the small-town approach you want, with the top-notch talent you need. With over 50 years of legal experience, a team that understands you and your farm’s unique needs and goals, and the skill needed to win in front of a Zoning Board or in the Courtroom, we are prepared to address every legal concern that your agritourism business will raise.

Robert M. Barga

Attorney At Law

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