As discussed in Part One, agritourism is a rapidly spreading form of agricultural entrepreneurship, allowing farmers and ranchers to expand 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 and many ways 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 find people discussing the best local apples, honey, or wine. By expanding your farm to have services that qualify as agritourism, you can 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 to convert into a fishing and camping location
- An unused maple grove the public can tap for syrup
While most large agritourism locations structure around the tourism parts, they don’t need to. Instead, most farms start on a 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. You can use agritourism to exploit an existing, unproductive portion of your property or 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
Agritourism allows you to exploit a growing market share for local goods, create new markets, and expand your current market directly. By creating incentives that draw the public toward your local goods or online craft store, you expand that market, which creates 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 opportunity 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. It can create other closely related business concepts and have the required connection to a working farm. Agritourism allows you to expand your farm into 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. For example, you can create a niche “sunflower weddings” type location, 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 control your market. By maintaining control over the production and delivery of the goods, the consumers know they are buying what they want, and you are removing the middleman. This allows you to expand your market, tailor your market, and ensure that your harvest sells at a price beneficial for you and your customer. By taking a slow approach to agritourism, you can create an additional revenue stream that grows as time goes by and has the potential to become the primary method of your farm’s products reaching consumers.
Okay, So Agritourism Has Economic Benefits – 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. Once you are properly established, and all required signs, notices, and other rules are followed, the law provides one-of-a-kind protection from civil liabilities that may arise. One example is that normal domestic animals may become aggressive to certain guests, the law helps shield you from an ensuing lawsuit. The law also allows for other protections, uncommon allowances, and a unique taxing structure, depending on how your agritourism business is set up; I will dig deeper into this 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. It will require hard work, but, like other businesses, working with the right advisors will position you in the best possible starting slot.
How Can EQUES Law Group Help Me?
If you want to explore your farm’s future, EQUES Law Group has the hometown 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 skills 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 EQUES Law Group focus on the regulations and rules behind the scenes and keep your focus on creating, growing, and expanding your agritourism business. Give Robert a call today and see how we can help you transform your farm for tomorrow.
Attorney At Law