TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly Agriculture and Food Security Committee on Monday advanced a bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer, allowing all preserved farmlands to host special occasion events.
Dancer’s bill (A2772) builds on a similar successful pilot program for wineries that started in 2014.
“An interim report on the winery pilot program found that revenue from events was as much as 29% of the farms’ total income. That kind of additional income can significantly benefit a farm’s bottom line, especially following the financial hardships caused by government-mandated shutdowns,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “We need to help the state’s agricultural community remain economically viable by permitting more public access to preserved farms.”
Dancer’s bill would allow commercial farms operating on preserved farmland to hold special occasion events, such as weddings or other milestone celebrations, provided the farm produces agricultural or horticultural products.
“This bill enhances a farm’s economic activity by encouraging more agritourism, which allows for a deeper understanding and appreciation for the farming industry and farm fresh produce,” said Dancer. “There are also safeguards to ensure that preserved farms remain agricultural enterprises, while the land serves as a beautiful backdrop for people’s special occasions.”
Events could not interfere with agricultural or horticultural production or cause a significant and direct negative impact to surrounding properties.
A total of 2,695 farms covering approximately 239,350 acres have been preserved under the farmland preservation program. This represents a $1.8 billion public investment. All preserved farms would be able to benefit from the bill.
Dancer’s bill was favorably reported out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee last session.