Agritourism, can be defined as any activity that generates supplemental income for working farms and ranches by connecting their resources and products with visitors. Starting a new endeavor or expanding an existing agritourism business requires planning, partnerships, and digging in deep to understand topics such as risk management and land-use policy. Several partners from around the state, including OSU Extension Service, Travel Oregon, Oregon Agritourism Network and the Oregon Agritourism Partnership have been developing new resources to help addresses some of issues.
Travel Oregon and the Oregon Agritourism Network have developed a web-based handbook that addresses eight areas to consider when starting or refining an agritourism venture. The broad categories included are:
- Why Consider Agritourism?
- Assessing your Potential for Agritourism Success
- Complying with Legal and Regulatory Requirements
- Managing Risk
- Developing a Business Plan
- Marketing Your Agritourism Venture
- Delivering a Great Visitor Experience
- Productive Partnerships
Agritourism Limited Liability Signs
Agritourism limited liability signs are now available for purchase through the Oregon Agritourism Partnership, 501c3. The signs were produced in compliance with Oregon’s Agritourism Limited Liability law, ORS 30.671 to 30.677, which will reduce threat of liability from visitors, if signage is posted at the entrance to the site and in locations where agritourism activities take place.
The signs make farm visitors aware they are entering an agritourism farm and activities at their own risk. By posting the signs in compliance with the state statutes, agritourism professionals are protected from most claims that involve “Inherent risks of agritourism activity,” meaning those dangers or conditions that are an integral part of an agritourism activity, including:
- Surface and subsurface conditions;
- Natural conditions of land, vegetation and waters;
- The behavior of wild or domestic animals;
- Ordinary dangers of structures or equipment ordinarily used in farming and ranching operations;
- The potential of a participant to act in a negligent manner that may contribute to injury to the participant or others, including failing to follow instructions given by the agritourism professional or failing to exercise reasonable caution while engaging in the agritourism activity.
The Extension Tourism program, a partnership with OSU Extension Service and Oregon Sea Grant has developed a website to provide information for the agritourism business owners in addition to exploring other sustainable tourism opportunities.
Recently published, Agritourism in Oregon’s Coastal Counties: Land Use Policy and Permitting Requirements is a primer for understanding potential challenges in agritourism business development.