Agritourism is a great way to capitalize on the natural draw of your landscape, connect non-farm families to agriculture and create new revenue streams for your operation. But these benefits of agritourism are not without risk.
Finding the right agritourism for your farm or ranch
Adding a new agritourism venture to your operation starts by considering the following:
- Your land, what you raise and any other resources that could contribute to a new attraction
- The time and money you can invest in an agritourism venture
- Potential hazards to visitors, the liability they create for you and how you’ll mitigate the risks to keep people safe
"It doesn't always have to be a large venture that requires a lot of resources,” said Barb Neal, Cornell Cooperative Extension Agriculture Agent and Horticulture Educator in Tioga County, New York. “Everybody has a specialty, so it’s just a matter of finding what will require the right amount of time and investment. You don’t always have to do it full-time.”
Agritourism ideas to consider
- Pumpkin patches and corn mazes. They’re popular and fairly common throughout the country, but can require a lot of time and labor.
- Farm tours and hayrack rides. Also fairly common, opening your farm to the public for tours and offering services like hayrack rides provide up-close farm experiences. They often vary widely in cost, supervision and risk exposure.
- Bed & breakfasts. An unoccupied farm house, or even a repurposed barn, offers farm guests distinctive overnight stays. Time and labor required are normally fairly high.
- Experiences. Ranging from “U-Pick” farms and Christmas tree farms to barn rentals for events like weddings, these also can range widely in cost, supervision and risk exposure.
- Classes. Weekly or monthly classes on things like jam- or bread-making can be an easy, low-cost option.
“There’s money to be made and you don't have to do it full-time,” Neal said. “There’s a lot of hesitance to do it considering the potential liability. But if you check with your state officials and risk management team, you will likely find that there are things you can do to minimize the liability of a new agritourism venture.”
Minimizing the risks of agritourism ideas
Before adding these agritourism ideas to your farm or ranch, think about the specific risks you and your visitors will face and how you’ll mitigate them. This includes simple things like trip and fall hazards all the way to specific risks around livestock, farm equipment and food safety. Conduct a thorough audit of these types of risks and start by taking steps to minimize the hazards they represent.
“Check with your state for any agritourism protective measures and talk to your insurance agent for guidance on mitigation measures and how you can expand your insurance coverage,” said Neal.
Talk with your insurance agent about agritourism
Farmers who offer agritourism activities need to discuss their specific types of businesses and agritourism liability considerations with their insurance agent. Usually, the policy that provides liability for the farm business does not extend to liability from other profit-making activities, such as agritourism.
Your local Nationwide Farm Certified agent can help you identify risks, implement safe practices and confirm you have the right agritourism insurance in place. Nationwide offers liability coverages that can be written as a package, in conjunction with a farm policy, to cover your agritourism ventures.