University of Maryland Extension

Customers, protecting their safety and your liability

Author: 
Neith Little, Extension Agent, Urban Agriculture

Urban Ag home | Table of contents

 Urban agriculture businesses where customers come onto the property, such as garden centers, farm stands, and agritourism operations, should consider purchasing premise liability insurance. Photo by Neith Little, UMD Extension, taken at Walther Gardens, Baltimore, MD.
Figure 3: Urban agriculture businesses where customers come onto the property, such as garden centers, farm stands, and agritourism operations, should consider purchasing premise liability insurance. Photo by Neith Little, UMD Extension, taken at Walther Gardens, Baltimore, MD.

 

When you sell a product, you have a responsibility to the safety of the person to whom you sell it. Selling food or agritourism experiences requires particular safety precautions, legal compliance, and liability considerations.

Every farm should assess food safety risks and adopt practices to reduce those risks. Basic food safety risk management practices include training anyone working on the farm to wash their hands, cleaning and sanitizing tools for harvesting, storing produce at appropriate temperatures, restricting animals' access to places where fresh produce is growing, and waiting 120 days between applying manure and harvesting. Good Agricultural Practices is a voluntary certification program. The Food Safety Modernization Act is a federal-level food safety regulation which is mandatory for farmers above a certain sales threshold. To learn more about food safety, see the UMD Extension food safety page here: http://extension.umd.edu/foodsafety

Customers may visit the farm to purchase at a farm stand, pick up a CSA share, or enjoy an agritourism experience such as pick-your-own or on-farm events. Many urban farms serve as community gathering places and experience a large volume of foot traffic. Clear signage and well-marked paths are important to guide farm visitors to the places where they should be, and steer them away from places where they might get hurt or trample produce.

In addition to doing your best to protect the safety of all visitors to your farm, it is a good idea to consider purchasing premise liability insurance. The Agriculture Law Education Initiative has helpful guides to understanding farm liability: http://umaglaw.org/publications-library/

The Maryland Insurance Administration has both a guide to farm insurance and a list of insurance agencies that offer farm insurance: https://insurance.maryland.gov/

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