Riley Bill to Help Promote Agricultural Tourism in New Jersey Gets Final Legislative OK

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Celeste M. Riley to promote agricultural tourism in New Jersey was approved XX-XX Thursday by the Assembly, giving it final legislative approval.
“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. This bill will encourage agricultural tourism through special educational and recreational activities for individuals and families.”
The bill requires the adoption of agricultural management practices (AMPs) for agricultural tourism events related to marketing and advancing agricultural output of farms.
It also allows special occasion events that promote agricultural tourism to be conducted at wineries under certain circumstances.
“These agricultural establishments are an important sector of New Jersey’s economy, but they are under economic pressures,” Riley said. “We’ve taken great steps to preserve farmland in our state, but now let’s give them the tools they need to entice visitors with special occasion events that can help drive our economy.”
The bill permits a special occasion event to be conducted at a winery provided that:
· The gross income generated by the winery from all special occasion events conducted for the calendar year together account for less than 50% of the annual gross income of the winery, or an average of less than 50% of the annual gross income of the winery over the preceding three-year period;
· The special occasion event uses the agricultural output of the winery, to the maximum extent practicable, to promote agricultural tourism and advance the agricultural or horticultural output of the winery;
· The special occasion event is conducted on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or federal or State holiday, except that a special occasion event may be conducted on any other day of the week with the approval of the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC). The SADC may delegate its authority in that regard to a county agriculture development board (CADB);
· The special occasion event is conducted in: (a) a temporary structure, such as an enclosed or open canopy or tent or other portable structure or facility, and any temporary structure would be put in place for only the minimum amount of time reasonably necessary to accommodate the special occasion event; (b) an existing permanent agricultural building; (c) a farm or open air pavilion; or (d) another structure used in the normal course of winery operations and activities;
· Any special occasion event complies with applicable municipal ordinances, resolutions, or regulations concerning litter, solid waste, and traffic and the protection of public health and safety;
· The winery is subject to a site plan review and any applicable development approvals as may be required under an ordinance adopted pursuant to the “Municipal Land Use Law,” P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-1 et seq.);
· The special occasion event is subject to the noise standards set forth pursuant to the “Noise Control Act,” P.L.1971, c.418 (C.13:1G-1 et seq.), and the rules and regulations adopted thereto;
· The special occasion event complies with any applicable municipal ordinance that restricts performing or playing music to inside the winery’s buildings and structures;
· The special occasion event ends at a specific time, if required pursuant to a curfew established by a municipal ordinance;
· The special occasion event would not knowingly result in a significant and direct negative impact to any property adjacent to the winery; and
· The winery hosting a special occasion event enforces State and federal requirements concerning the legal drinking age.
The bill defines a “special occasion event” to mean a wedding, lifetime milestone event, or other cultural or social event as defined by the appropriate CADB, and conducted pursuant to the requirements set forth in the bill.
The bill authorizes a CADB or the SADC to order, for cause, and specify the scope of, an audit of the owner or operator of a winery engaged in conducting special occasion events. The audit would be conducted by an approved independent certified public accountant, and the reasonable costs of the audit would be paid by the owner or operator of the winery.
An owner or operator of a winery engaged in conducting special occasion events will not be subject to an audit more than once during a three-year period without good cause demonstrated by the applicable board or the SADC.
The bill requires that an owner or operator of a winery engaged in conducting special occasion events annually certify to the CADB that the special occasion events together account for less than 50% of the annual gross income of the winery during the prior calendar year, or an average of less than 50% of the annual gross income of the winery over a three-year period. The bill provides that a CADB will forward the certification of annual gross income to the SADC.
The bill provides administrative penalties for failure to comply with its terms. An owner or operator of a winery in violation of the bill’s provisions will subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for the first offense, up to $2,000 for a second offense, and up to $3,000 for a subsequent offense, to be collected in a civil action commenced by the SADC.
Additionally, the SADC will, after a hearing, suspend the owner or operator of a winery in violation of the bill’s conditions from conducting special occasion events for a period of: up to six months for a second offense; at least six months but not more than one year for a third offense; and at least one year but not more than two years for a subsequent offense.
The bill also amends the Right to Farm Act to include certain events as a permitted activity under the law, by allowing a farm to conduct agriculture-related educational and farm-based recreational events provided that the events are related to marketing and advancing the agricultural or horticultural output of the commercial farm. Under the agricultural management practices, agricultural tourism events will include special occasion events.