'Agri-entertainment' bill passes House & Senate, not without critics

(WBIR-Greenback) A bill awaiting Governor Bill Haslam's signature would impact thousands of farmers across the state and potentially the neighbors who surround all that farmland.

HB 1410 and SB 1614would allow any event on farmland, or connected to produce from a farm, to be considered "entertainment." This form of 'agri-entertainment' has been growing in the industry for the last decade.

"Today in 2014, we have to come up with creative ideas to market our products just to make ends meet, so it's not agriculture as it used to be," said Bob Schmidt, owner of Maple Lane Farms.

The Greenback farm has a corn maze in the fall, and a strawberry festival in the spring with live music. However, some neighbors complained over the growth of the festival -- stating the loud noise and people caused zoning issues.

It was heard before the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2013, where resident Velda Shore appealed the lower court's decision on the issue with Maple Lane Farms.

The courts ruled in her favor, stating neighbors could complain over concerts on farms. Now, this bill could reverse that decision, if it becomes law.

"It's agriculture for the future," Schmidt said, saying the bill, one step away from becoming law, would allow the events on his property again. "Put our focus back to business."


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