OSU conference helps farmers get into agritourism

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Horseback riding is one activity farmers can offer visitors to bring in agritourism dollars. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)
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Farmers and policymakers discuss regulatory constraints and solutions

More Oregon farmers want to share their corn mazes, pumpkin patches and horseback rides with visitors to get a piece of the lucrative agritourism pie.

Nationally, it's a big business. The U.S. was home to 52,000 farms that earned about $955 million from agritourism in 2004.

So the Oregon State University Extension Service organized the two-part Oregon Agritourism Summit to help farmers branch out. Nearly 160 people attended the first meeting on campus and learned about marketing, navigating regulations, reducing potential liabilities and creating a hospitable experience for visitors.

Three months later at the second meeting at OSU in 2013, policymakers, land-use planners and farmers discussed regulatory issues. They focused on lodging, food service, cross-county agritourism ventures and the use of farm buildings for agritourism businesses. Katy Coba, the director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, gave the keynote address.

Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service; OSU Extension Service small farms instructor Melissa Fery.

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