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A suburban fmaily enjoys apple picking on a farm.With agriculture expenses on the rise and profits on the decline, farmers are looking for new opportunities to diversify their farm products and supplement their agriculture income. Across the country, agritourism is gaining momentum as one of the newest business opportunities for farmers. To determine if this could be a viable means of revenue for your farm, let's look at the possible business opportunities as well as the pros and cons of this growing business trend.

What is agritourism?

Agritourism, also called agritainment, is any business endeavor that integrates agriculture and tourism on a working farm or ranch. This business model includes a spectrum of activities that offer leisure, education and entertainment opportunities for the public. Revenue prospects include: produce stands, on-farm stores, petting zoos, corn mazes, haunted houses, hayrides, fishing contests, wine tastings, camp sites, seasonal festivals and various farm demonstrations. Any attraction that brings urban dwellers onto farms can enhance agriculture income.

The appeal of agritourism has increased as consumers have become more aware of fresh and organic products. Because families want to experience a simpler life and make a personal connection to where their food comes from, they head to the farm. Although the rewards of agritourism could be substantial to your business, you need to examine the pros and cons before starting any new business venture. Agritourism is an excellent way of promoting your farm. It can provide supplementary income to the farm business and offer year-round employment opportunities for the staff. In many cases, much of the infrastructure and the resources are already in place, so start up costs can often be minimal. Benefits beyond the farm include increased tourism and local employment opportunities within the surrounding community as more people are drawn to the area.

While there can be many benefits to agritourism, there can also be challenges. With increased exposure, there are increased risks as well. Operating a successful agritourism business requires management and marketing skills that farmers are not accustomed to using as part of running their farm. Some people love working with the public, others find it frustrating and challenging. Also, as soon as you allow the general public access to your farm, you have liability considerations. Farm renovations, marketing, and liability insurance can be expensive, and, in some cases, cost prohibitive. In addition, agritainment often requires long, labor-intensive hours during weekends and holidays.

Agritourism is gaining popularity all across the country and at some point you may find yourself giving serious thought to jumping on the bandwagon. Before starting any add-on business, talk to your insurance agent. Make sure you have adequate liability coverage for any farm activities open to the public.

Special Member Savings

At Southern States®, we are proud to be one of the nation's largest farmer-owned cooperatives. Southern States has partnered with Nationwide® Agribusiness Insurance to offer Southern States Cooperative member-producers in North Carolina and Virginia special discounts on insurance. In addition to giving you exclusive insurance savings, we're also joining forces to support the cooperative that means so much to you.

Nationwide® Agribusiness is the number 1 insurer of farms in the U.S. and a leading insurer of commercial agribusiness. Go to to find a local agent.

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