Senate Passes Ward Bill to Help Farmers with Barn Wedding Venues
April 1, 2021
The Pennsylvania Senate on March 23 approved a bill sponsored by state Sen. Judy Ward (R-30) that sets safety standards for barns and other agricultural buildings that are re-purposed for weddings and other social events.
Pa. Senate Bill 191 would allow farmers to file an annual affidavit that their venue meets certain safety standards, alleviating the costly requirements that are included in the state’s Uniform Construction Code for buildings that host weddings, receptions and similar events.
“Recognizing the challenges and difficulties that family farms face today in keeping their operations profitable and preserving their farms for the next generation, farmers are looking to supplement their income by offering ‘agritainment’ or ‘agritourism’ activities on their land,” Sen. Ward said on the Senate floor. “Several farmers in my district have raised concerns about being unable to legally host weddings and other special events due to the fact that they don’t have sprinkler systems in their barns. I believe state law can strike a responsible balance between the safety of guests and the financial costs to the farmers who want to host these events.”
Sen. Ward’s bill would still require re-purposed agricultural buildings to meet a number of safety standards, including the availability of functioning smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and signage indicating all external entrances in case of a fire. Owners would be required to carry liability insurance. Smoking and all open flames would also be prohibited.
Senate Bill 191, which is supported by the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, will now go to the House for consideration.