IOWA FARM BUREAU APPLAUDS LEGISLATURE FOR RESTORING RECREATIONAL STATUTE FOR FARMERS, LANDOWNERS Print
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Andrew Wheeler   
Monday, 20 May 2013 15:17

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – May 17, 2013 – The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), the state’s largest grassroots farm organization, applauds the passage of HF 649, a measure to protect farmers and landowners who allow visitors onto their farm for recreational purposes. The measure unanimously passed the Iowa House and Senate and is now before Gov. Terry Branstad.

The measure resulted from an Iowa Supreme Court ruling in February which opened farmers and private landowners up to liability if someone was injured while on their land for recreational purposes such as fishing, hunting, and field trips.

“This is a big win for Iowa farmers and all Iowans who want to experience and learn more about life on the farm,” said IFBF President Craig Hill. “By restoring this liability protection that farmers have had for four decades, the Legislature took a common sense approach that will be good for all Iowans.”

The Iowa Supreme Court ruling stemmed from a field trip an Iowa kindergarten class took to a northeast Iowa dairy farm. A chaperone fell in a barn, claimed the landowner was negligent and sued.

The Iowa Supreme Court imposed a far more narrow interpretation of ‘recreational’ and liability protection than those that Iowa farmers have had since the 1970’s. It said landowners could be protected only if they opened up their land to the general public and if the recreational activity occurred outdoors, not in a barn or shed. It also ruled that landowners lost liability protection if they acted as tour guides on the farm. That had prompted many legal experts to recommend that Iowa farmers severely limit the visitors onto their land or close their farm gates completely.

Hill added, “Not only does HF 649 restore liability protection for previous activities, it also includes educational activities, directs broad interpretation, eliminates public access concerns and removes the peril from the ‘tour guide’ role of landowners. The unanimous vote is a clear indication that the legislation is a common sense measure that will serve the needs of farmers, landowners and the general public.”

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About Iowa Farm Bureau

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation is a grassroots, statewide organization dedicated to enhancing the People, Progress and Pride of Iowa.  More than 153,000 families in Iowa are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve farm and rural prosperity.  For more information about Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit the online Newsroom page at www.iowafarmbureau.com.