OSU conference helps farmers get into agritourism

Horseback riding is one activity farmers can offer as agritourism.
Horseback riding is one activity farmers can offer visitors to bring in agritourism dollars. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

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 33,161 farms that earned about $704 million from agritourism in 2012.

So the OSU 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.

As a result of OSU Extension’s educational efforts, Oregon legislators are considering a bill regarding limited liability for agritourism businesses in Oregon.

Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service; OSU Extension Service small farms instructor Melissa Fery; USDA 2012 Census of Agriculture

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