Legislators have approved a bill to try to ease concerns Iowa farmers have been raising after a February Iowa Supreme Court ruling allowed a woman injured during a farm tour to pursue her lawsuit against the farm tour’s host.
Representative Julian Garrett, a Republican from Indianola, said he’s followed the issue closely because he’s a property owner, a Farm Bureau member and a lawyer.
“I’ve looked at this from several different points of view and it does appear to me that we’ve gone a long way toward fixing the uncertainty,” Garrett said.
A 1967 state law granted liability protection to private property owners who open their lands to “recreational purposes” — like hunting and fishing. The bill that cleared both the House and the Senate tonight would expand the liability protection for “educational activities” on private land — like farm tours. Representative Scott Ourth, a Democrat from Ackworth, said the bill should put farmers’ liability fears “to bed.”
“Republicans and Democrats, folks from all over the state, different walks of life, have come together to see to it that the people of the great state of Iowa have been served well, that their fears have been assuaged,” Ourth said.
Senator Ken Rozenboom, a Republican from Oskaloosa, is a farmer.
“I’m not sure who loses if we pass this, but I’m darned sure I know who wins,” Rozenboom said. “Iowa wins. Everyone wins.”
Senator Dan Zumbach, a Republican from Ryan, is also a farmer.
“Two days ago I got a request from the students at West Delaware Elementary if they could come out to the farm and do a farm tour and I haven’t answered them yet,” Zumbach said. “I can give ’em an answer tomorrow.”
The bill first passed the House by a 97-0 vote, then the Senate approved it on a 48-0 vote. It now goes to the governor.