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Future legislation addresses agritourism insurance costs

Future legislation addresses agritourism insurance costs

A state official has pre-tabled a memorial bill that would ask state departments to consider lowering insurance costs for agri-tourism businesses, such as the Burnt Well Guest Ranch in Chaves County , visible in this archive photo, which offers accommodation and breeding experiences to visitors. . (Photo submitted)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Some members of the state’s agri-tourism industry want more affordable insurance, and the issue could be considered by the New Mexico legislature this year.

District 27 representative Marian Matthews (D-Albuquerque), a member of the House Agriculture and Water Resources committee, has pre-tabled a memorial bill, House Memorial 2, regarding the matter. She is seeking it to be considered by the 2022 regular session of the Legislative Assembly, which is due to begin on January 18.

“I’m interested in opportunities for economic development, and I think agrotourism has definitely been an opportunity for economic development in other states and I think it could be here,” Matthews said.

She added that she had agreed to sponsor the legislation at the request of the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau.

Matthews said agritourism allows people who live in urban settings to immerse themselves in agricultural environments or see firsthand how food and livestock are grown, whether in places where people can pluck their crops. own vegetables or fruits or in children’s zoos, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, ranches or similar places.

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“Those people who have these attractions on their farm or ranch – or who would love to have these kinds of attractions on their farm or ranch – find it difficult to make it economically feasible due to the price of insurance,” said Matthews. “For me, this is an unnecessary obstacle for these people to have this economic opportunity.”

According to HM 2, current New Mexico law limits the legal liability of operators of horse-related businesses and ski attractions. But New Mexico agri-tourism businesses should obtain the same type of insurance coverage that is required by theme parks or fairs.

“The problem is, they have people picking blueberries and they pay the same price as someone who runs a roller coaster,” she said. “The risk is so different between an amusement park and an agriturismo that it makes no sense, and it is just an artificial barrier for farmers and ranchers who can develop this area of ​​our economy and generate additional income. “

The state estimated in 2017 that 465 agritourism businesses existed in New Mexico and generated $ 18.5 million in annual revenue.

The legislation indicates that 37 other states have already developed laws that provide more affordable insurance or limit the legal liability of agri-tourism businesses.

The Memorial Bill calls on the New Mexico Department of Economic Development, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, and the New Mexico Department of Tourism to compile information to determine the number of agri-tourism businesses in the region. State and value of the industry.

In addition, the legislation would require the Office of the State Superintendent of Insurance to review what other states have done to reduce insurance costs and suggest steps it could take to provide more affordable insurance to consumers. food companies.

At this point, the legislation would require different state units to report their findings to lawmakers by September 30, 2022.

It is unclear whether the commemorative bill will be considered by a committee or heard by either house of the Legislature in a 30-day session intended to focus primarily on budgetary matters. .

“You’d assume it wouldn’t be difficult because it’s just a memorial, but you never know,” Matthews said, “and I would never say,“ Oh, yeah, it’s gonna be easy. “”

Senate and House of Representatives bills that aimed to provide limited liability for agrotourism were introduced in 2015. Bill 488, sponsored by local lawmaker District 58 Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell (R-Roswell), carried by the House unanimously but not carried. by the Senate. The Senate bill was not submitted for consideration.

In 2017, Ezzell and Bob Wooley, now retired, and District 54 Representative James Townsend (R-Artesia) introduced Bill 434, which did not reach the House floor for a vote.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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