Agritourism bill signed into law… what next?

The life of a bill is quite extensive during each legislative session. For a handful of bills after the session is complete, the work has just begun. Once a bill is passed the House and Senate may approve a joint resolution requesting an interim study of that particular bill. After the conclusion of the session legislators vote through a mail ballot on the joint resolutions to determine what studies will be approved. The number of studies commissioned is generally between six and eight depending on legislative council funding and staff time.

This session a joint resolution is requesting an interim study on the development of agritourism in Montana following the passage of HB342. If the study is approved the committee and staff will examine how the state of Montana may aid in the development of agritourism. The study would involve input from the Montana Departments of Agriculture and Commerce. Also taken into account would be interests of agritourism including local, state and federal organizations or agencies and the public. According to the resolution, the study will look into potential agritourism activities including, but not limited to: farm tours, children’s educational day camps, bed and breakfasts, bird-hunting preserves, wildlife watching, corn mazes, petting farms, hands-on u pick, farmers markets, hay and sleigh rides and more. The interim committee commissioned will also examine the challenges of agritourism including but not limited to: increased farm’s liability and risk, zoning, food-related inspections, licenses or fees, zoning and animal-human health concerns.

Per the resolution the study is to be concluded by September of 2018 and then reported on to the 66th legislature. Montana Farmers Union led the charge on passage of HB342, and fully supports a study to be conducted on the issue. MFU will continue to follow this process and keep membership updated on the potential study.