How to Start an Agritourism Business?

Some farm owners may consider agritourism an attractive option to generate additional income streams. The farmer can reap multiple benefits when non-farming residents come to the farm looking for fun experiences. Farm-owners may use agritourism to attract customers to their farms. This eliminates the need for delivery and allows them to sell the crops directly.

Farm visitors can enjoy educational activities like sheep-shearing demonstrations or entertaining activities like gourd-painting classes. They also have the chance to see the farm’s animals and crops. The visitors can be from the local community or international tourists.

Agritourism combines tourism and agriculture to offer rural experiences for urban residents as well as economic diversification for farmers. Agritourism is becoming more popular as farmers realize the need to diversify and increase their farm incomes. A growing number of people want to enjoy rural experiences and outdoor recreation.  

Agritourism planning requires forward-thinking and local-driven thinking. Planning must recognize agriculture as both land use and a business. This planning guide by AGRIKULTURE TODAY is intended for agritourism providers and rural economic development professionals.

Benefits of Agritourism

Agriculture is currently facing increasing challenges such as increased market competition, rising input and land costs, sprawl encroachment, and complex regulatory environments. Some businesses have to find ways to increase the value of their products and generate reliable revenue streams in order to remain in business. 

Agritourism farms are value-added farms or ranches that provide pleasure, education, and other experiences. The public can pay to purchase or participate in agricultural products or activities.

Agritourism offers a variety of social, economic, and educational benefits to consumers, producers, and local communities. It also provides incentives to farmers to stay in agriculture. Agritourism gives them great opportunities to diversify their product and service offerings as well as supplement their farm incomes. The community benefits from agritourism. Through their purchases of goods or services, operations create jobs and help the local economy. 

Agritourism also offers “spillover” economic opportunities. Agricultural tourists can shop, eat, and stay in the community. Rural communities can also benefit from agritourism by increasing their local tax base. Agritourism generates more tax revenue than it costs in services, and farmland and forests generally require fewer community services. It can be a robust support system for farms, forests, and other agricultural enterprises. 

Agritourism is a unique local business that cannot be “outsourced.” It offers educational opportunities that allow visitors to connect with scenic landscapes and local heritage. These operations can be used to educate the general public about the industry’s contributions to local quality of living. It offers a sustainable way to care for rural working lands or scenic areas. Agritourism can also help preserve a community’s agricultural heritage.

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Getting Started in Agritourism Venture 

Here are 10 steps to help you grow your agritourism company. You might consider moving from one to 10 in a span of 1 to 2 years. 

Step 1# Take stock of all your resources. 

Step 2# Get informed. Participate in workshops and conferences, meet farmers near you, and browse websites.  

Step 3# Learn from other entrepreneurs. Talk to your neighbors and other entrepreneurs about how they run their businesses. Visit nearby businesses. 

Step 4# Talk to potential customers. Ask your family, friends, or neighbors for information about the services and products you’re considering offering through your new business. Do they have any interest? 

Step 5# You should research the market and compare your competitors to your colleagues. Establish a system to track customer reactions to your new offering and establish performance indicators that will help you determine whether your goals are being met. Keep an eye on the agritourism hashtags on Instagram and Twitter to see what others are doing. 

Step 6# Network. Join the tourism associations and agritourism associations in your state. Also, take a look at what neighboring countries have to offer. 

Step 7# Get in touch with state and local tourism professionals and cooperative extension agents. 

Step 8# Talk to your insurance provider about the type of coverage you have for guests staying on the farm. Also, ask them what additional coverage they recommend and how much it will cost. 

Step 9# Create a marketing and business plan. 

Step 10# Keep it small and be thrifty in the beginning. You can only learn from your mistakes, adapt, and grow when your new agritourism venture meets your goals.

The following questions are a good starting point for farmers who want to develop agritourism farms.

  • What are you looking to accomplish? 
  • Are you clear on your goals for your agritourism farm or business? 
  • Have you compiled a list of activities that you would like to offer? * Have you compiled a list of resources available on your farm and most attractive for agritourism?
  • Who are you looking to serve? 
  • What are your ages, the size of your groups, and how often will you serve them?
  • Are you familiar with your land rights?
  • Are you willing to charge for your services or not? 
  • What amount are you willing to invest (including time and money)? 
  • What time do you plan to open your business? 
  • Are you interested in delivering an educational program?
  • Are you able to share historical or cultural information?
  • Are you planning to create a website or newsletter online? 
  • Do you plan to open a gift shop or sell souvenirs? 
  • Are you planning to sell homemade food?
  • Are you able to create a business plan? 
  • Are you talking with your agent about possible increases in liability coverage? 
  • What percentage of your land do you intend to use? 
  • Are you prohibited from using any land for agritourism?
  • Is there another agritourism farm nearby that could be compared with yours?
  • Do you have any land, water, or wildlife issues that could impact your plans?
  • Do you know of any local laws and regulations, such as those relating to planning, zoning, or health? 
  • Have you consulted your local agricultural extension offices, business and economic development offices, the Secretary of State, and tax offices? 
  • Are they open to your ideas? Are you prepared to deal with negative feedback?
  • Are there enough parking spaces for large groups? 
  • Are there turn-around areas available for school buses?
  • Are hand washing and toilet facilities accessible to people with special needs?
  • Have you got a list of emergency numbers near a visitor-accessible phone?
  • Did you know that many organizations can help promote your farms, such as the Chamber of Commerce, the local Convention and Visitors Bureau, and other organizations that support agritourism?
  • Are you looking for other rural entertainment and crafts resources in your area?
  • Are you planning to install signage on-site to highlight educational and/or recreational experiences?
  • You might consider hospitality services. Who will greet your visitors? Do you plan to have guides who can lead guided tours?
  • Do you have a strategy for tracking visitors to determine where to increase marketing efforts? Sign up with your email address to create guest books
  • Do you offer coupons for future visits? Discounts for large groups For school groups, special incentives.

Potential Obstacles in Agritourism

It is possible that agritourism can be integrated into local communities with minimal disruption. However, there are potential problems. Planning for agritourism involves consideration of possible neighborhood impacts as well as competing interests within the agricultural community. 

Residents are often concerned about noise, traffic, and trespassers, as these impacts can harm the character of their community. Many of these concerns can easily be addressed if farmers proactively build relationships with their neighbors and local decision-makers. You have many tools that can help you minimize any potential problems.

The quality of life on neighboring farms can be affected by noise levels. The noise level in agricultural areas tends to be lower than in urban areas. Rural areas are known for their peaceful environment. However, agriculture can be noisy. Machines, animals, trucks, and equipment can make different noises. Local decision-makers should assess whether the noise produced by the agritourism operations is comparable to or different from the noise typically heard in rural and agricultural areas before approving it. 

Local decision-makers should determine whether the noise will be day, season, or event-based if it is not common in the area. Buffers and noise ordinances can address noise concerns. Agritourism businesses should not be subject to more noise restrictions than other businesses. Neighboring landowners may also be concerned about increased traffic. To determine the potential traffic impacts, local governments can use a traffic management program that estimates the number of vehicles and how many people will be using public roads.

Agritourism businesses must provide sufficient off-street parking to reduce traffic hazards. Both agritourism operators and landowners nearby should be concerned about trespassing. Operators need to regularly inspect restricted areas for trespassers. Operators should regularly inspect restricted areas for trespassers and have them escorted to their correct locations. 

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Agritourism providers can post signs that prohibit trespassing at property boundaries to limit the impact of trespassing on neighboring landowners. This sign is a reasonable and prudent attempt to protect neighboring landowners against increased liability. Local decision-makers must be able to recognize the differences in views and competing interests within the agricultural community. Some farmers believe planning can help shape the future of their community. Others feel angry and uncertain about the planning process. Farmers may have different interests on their land that could conflict with one another.

A farmer’s interest can vary depending on the issue. Farmers may be simultaneously landowners, business owners, and taxpayers. A farmer may actively transfer his operations to a younger generation and support policies restricting non-agricultural development. Farmers planning to leave the industry in the future might be more inclined to highlight their interest in land ownership to maximize their property values. Different farm types may have different priorities. To ensure that all interests are considered, communities must consider the diversity of local agriculture.

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