(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Celeste M. Riley allowing special agricultural tourism events to be held on preserved farmland with restrictions advanced in the Senate on Thursday.
“There is a reason why New Jersey is called the Garden State,” said Riley (D-Cumberland/Salem/Gloucester). “In addition to its great industrial past, New Jersey has a proud farming heritage that deserves to be showcased and preserved. This bill will encourage preservation of agricultural lands through educational and recreational activities for individuals and families.”
Under the bill (A-323) special occasion events would be allowed on preserved farmland as long as: (1) The income generated from the special events accounts for less than 50 percent of the annual gross income of the preserved farmland; (2) The special events advance the agricultural or horticultural output of the farm and promotes agricultural tourism; and (3) The special events are conducted on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday or federal or state holiday, or another day with approval of the State Agricultural Development Committee.
The bill requires the owner or operator of the preserved farmland to annually certify that the special events account for less than 50 percent of the annual gross income of the preserved farmland during each calendar year. An owner or operator who violates this certification would face a $500 fine for a first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses.
The bill defines a special event as a wedding, other lifetime milestone event or another special event as determined by a county agricultural development board.
The billed cleared the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and now heads to the Senate President for further consideration.