What are some examples of Agritourism and how can it Benefit Me?
As discussed in Part One, Agritourism is a rapidly spreading form of agricultural entrepreneurship, allowing farmers and ranchers to better control their income, while creating opportunities for the public to learn and gain first-hand experience. While you may have a picture of what you expect from agritourism, probably a Christmas tree farm or a pick-your-own orchard, there are hundreds of possible paths for your specific business to take, and many ways for it to benefit you; this article will discuss some of those.
Homesteading, big and small.
- A beekeeper who offers the public to suit up and collect honey
- A small bakery that produces artisan loaves with their own wheat and invites the public to participate in grinding, milling, and baking
- A small farm with a pick your own berry patch
- A large dairy that offers cheese making classes
Homesteading is undergoing a reemergence around the state of Ohio, with more and more customers focused on locally grown/harvested, and free-range, products, sourced from a nearby mom-and-pop family farm. Go to any farmers market, “Ohio aisle” in a grocery store, or most community Facebook forums, and you will find people discussing the best local apples, honey, or wine. By expanding your farm to have services that qualify as agritourism, you can instead encourage these same consumers to come to you directly, and teach them your trade, while earning their business.
Creating new markets and opportunities while continuing the current.
- A small farm that offers a petting zoo
- A large farm that has an unused back-40 being converted into a fishing and camping location
- An unused maple grove the public can tap for syrup
While most large agritourism locations are structured around the tourism parts, they don’t need to be. Instead, most farms start on the small-scale, with a small portion of the overall farm being used to draw visitors; as your visitors increase, you can learn your market and expand your operation with them. Agritourism can be used to exploit an existing, unproductive portion of your property, or used in combination with your already functioning farm. This allows you to continue with your current revenue streams while creating entirely new markets and sources of income.
Attracting Tourists and Customers.
- A local farm stand that uses a “living farm” tour to draw in new customers
- A small turkey farm that uses seasonal activities like corn mazes and hayrides to draw in customers at the right time of year
- A large dairy with its own ice cream parlor and education center
- A craft stall that also offers classes on products made with plants/animals grown/raised on the farm
Part of the benefit of agritourism is not just that it allows you to exploit a growing market share for local goods and creates new markets, but that it also allows you to expand your current market directly. By creating incentives that draw the public toward your local goods or online craft store, you expand that market while creating new opportunities. Similarly, by offering education or entertainment tied to your market, you can draw consumers directly to you at the right time of year, ensuring that your harvest will have the best conditions for sale.
Hosting weddings and events.
- A vineyard with a winery for tasting and events
- A fully integrated corporate retreat location with the farm and natural environment being central to its offerings
- A functioning greenhouse that can be rented and decorated for weddings
- A fishing hole or stocked pond designed to host and educate scouts and other youth
Agritourism does not need to be limited to a working farm, instead, it can be used to create other business concepts that are closely related, and have the required nexus, to a working farm. This allows you to expand your farm into entirely new markets, offering corporate retreat locations, or stunning wedding venues. One unique feature of this is that it allows you to focus on your passion rather than the consumer market, as you can create a niche “sunflower weddings” type location, or something similar, which would attract numerous agritourists, but would not attract consumers otherwise.
The bottom line: control of your product, revenue, and income.
The primary advantage of agritourism is that it allows you to better control your market. By maintaining control over the production and delivery of the goods, the consumers are ensured that they are buying exactly what they want, and you are removing the middle-man. This allows you to expand your market, tailor your market, and ensure that all you harvest is sold, at a good price. By taking a slow approach to agritourism, you can create an additional revenue stream that grows as time goes by and eventually could become the primary method of your farm’s products reaching the consumers.
Okay, so it has economic benefits, but what are the legal benefits?
Agritourism is not just a way to expand your market and educate the public, it is also a way to trigger certain protections and conditions under state law. If you are properly formed, properly set up, and all required signs, notices, and other rules are followed, the law provides unique protection from civil liabilities that may arise. One example is that normal domestic animals may become aggressive to certain guests, and the law helps shield you from an ensuing lawsuit. The law also allows for other protections, unique allowances, and a unique taxing structure, depending on how your agritourism business is set up; I will be exploring this further in the next article.
Agritourism has a lot of red tape. State law is not completely clear on what does and does not qualify, local zoning and health laws apply, and taxing rules, like a CAUV or other similar concepts, require attorneys and accountants to navigate. Likewise, your farm is a business, so concerns about liability, contracts, and employment should be front and center. Starting an agritourism business is not an easy task, and it will require hard work, but like all other businesses, working with the right advisors will position you in the best possible starting slot.
How can While Law Office help me?
If you are looking to explore your farm’s future, White Law Office, Co. has the small-town approach you want, with the top-notch talent you need. With over 50 years of legal experience, a team that understands you and your farm’s unique needs and goals, and the skill needed to win in front of a Zoning Board or in the Courtroom, we are prepared to address every concern that your agritourism business will raise.
Let White Law Office, Co. focus on the regulations and rules behind the scenes, keep your focus on creating, growing, and expanding your agritourism business. Give Robert a call today in our Newark location, and see how we can help you transform your farm for tomorrow.
Robert M. Barga
Attorney At Law