In a recent opinion, Shore v. Maple Lane Farms, the Tennessee court addressed the issue of agri-tourism in relation to the state’s Right to Farm law. The case involved a suit by a neighbor claiming that some of a farm’s tourism activities, including helicopter rides and amplified music concerts, did not fall within the protection of the law.

Tennessee’s Right to Farm law is found in section 43-26-103 of the Tennessee Code and provides, in part, “It is a rebuttable presumption that a farm or farm operation, except a new type of farming operation as described in subsection (b), is not a public or private nuisance.”

The court first clarified that the protection from nuisance does not apply to any activities that take place on a farm. As with many cases involving agri-tourism and right to farm laws, the decision turned on whether the activities were related to farming activities, specifically whether using activities to “market” other farming activities is protected. The Court found that the nuisance protection, as written in the Tennessee statute, applied only to production of agricultural products or activities in connection with production and that the music concerts at issue bore no relation the production of cattle, corn, vegetables, strawberries or pumpkins at the farm.

The Court goes on to explain that activities that are covered under Tennessee’s Agri-tourism Liability law, that protects landowners from liability from accidents on their farm, are not necessarily protect under the Right to Farm law.

“The purposes of these two sets of statutes are entirely unrelated. The zoning statutes strike a balance between farming and the ability of counties to reasonably regulate the use of the property in the county outside of incorporated municipalities. The purpose of the agritourism statutes, on the other hand, is to limit the liability of “agritourism professionals” for injuries to persons who come to their property to enjoy corn mazes, hayrides, pick-your-own pumpkin and strawberry patches, and other agritourism activities. Because these purposes are so different, we cannot, without some legal basis, presume that the General Assembly balanced the competing interests on each occasion in precisely the same way.”




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