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Prospective legislation addresses agritourism insurance costs

Some members of the state’s agritourism business need extra inexpensive insurance coverage, and the difficulty might be thought of by the New Mexico Legislature this yr.

District 27 Rep. Marian Matthews (D-Albuquerque), a member of the Home Agriculture and Water Assets Committee, has pre-filed a memorial invoice, Home Memorial 2, relating to the difficulty. She is looking for for it to be thought of by the 2022 common session of the Legislature, which is scheduled to begin on Jan. 18.

“I’m curious about financial improvement alternatives, and I feel agritourism actually has been an financial improvement alternative in different states and I feel it might be right here,” Matthews stated.

She added that she agreed to sponsor the laws on the request of the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau.

Matthews stated that agritourism permits individuals who dwell in city settings to change into immersed in agricultural environments or see firsthand how meals and livestock are grown, whether or not that happens at locations the place individuals can choose their very own greens or fruits or at petting zoos, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, dude ranches or comparable venues.

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“These of us who’ve these points of interest at their farms or ranch — or wish to have these type of points of interest at their farm or ranch — discover it very troublesome to make it economically possible due to the value of the insurance coverage,” Matthews stated. “To me that’s an pointless barrier to those of us having the ability to have this financial alternative.”

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In response to HM 2, present New Mexico regulation limits the authorized legal responsibility of operators of equine-related companies and snowboarding points of interest. However New Mexico agritourism companies should receive the identical kind of insurance coverage protection required by amusement parks or festivals.

“The issue with that’s, they’re having individuals selecting blueberries and they’re paying the identical value as somebody operating a rollercoaster,” she stated. “The danger is so completely different between an amusement park and agritourism that it doesn’t make any sense, and it simply offers a synthetic barrier for farmers and ranchers having the ability to develop this space of our financial system and make some further revenue.”

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

The laws signifies 37 different states have already got developed legal guidelines that present extra inexpensive insurance coverage or restrict the authorized legal responsibility of agritourism companies.

The memorial invoice asks that the New Mexico Financial Improvement Division, the New Mexico Division of Agriculture and the New Mexico Tourism Division compile info to find out the variety of agritourism companies within the state and the worth of the business.

As well as, the laws would require the state Workplace of the Superintendent of Insurance coverage to survey what different states have completed to cut back the prices of insurance coverage and recommend actions it might take to offer extra inexpensive insurance coverage to agribusinesses.

At this level, the laws would ask the varied state items to report their findings to legislators by Sept. 30, 2022.

Whether or not the memorial invoice shall be taken up by committee or heard by both chamber of the Legislature throughout a 30-day session meant to focus totally on budgetary points is unknown.

“One would assume it could not be troublesome as a result of it’s only a memorial, however you by no means know,” Matthews stated, “and I might by no means say, ‘Oh, yeah, that is going to be simple.’”

Senate and Home of Representatives payments that sought to supply restricted legal responsibility for agritourism had been launched in 2015. Home Invoice 488, sponsored by native legislator District 58 Rep. Sweet Spence Ezzell (R-Roswell), was handed by the Home unanimously however was not taken up by the Senate. The Senate invoice didn’t make it to the ground for consideration.

In 2017, Ezzell and Bob Wooley, now retired, and District 54 Rep. James Townsend (R-Artesia), launched Home Invoice 434, which didn’t make it to the Home flooring for a vote.

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

 

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