Agritourism is easily defined as any activity that brings visitors to farms or ranches. In 2009, the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) and University of Missouri’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Program (MU-PRT) developed a survey “to strengthen the understanding of agritourism in Missouri.” Through three research reports the MDA and MU-PRT revealed that agritourism is beneficial to Missouri farms by attracting visitors which will increase profitability and interest, while also contributing by serving community members and creating employment.
With nearly 200 farms surveyed, “almost 65 percent of farm operators perceived that their farm profits increased after developing agritourism on their farms.” With over a million visitors a year, mostly consisting of seniors and families, agritourism “not only brings direct revenues to the farm, but also assists in the promotion and sale of other farm products.”
There are many ways to incorporate agritourism on farms. In the article, “Entertainment Farming and Agri-Tourism: Business Management Guide,” for ATTRA, Katherine L. Adam, NCAT Agricultural Specialist, explained that “there are three agritourism basics:  Have something for visitors to see, something for them to do and something for them to buy. How well you relate the various components (through a theme or otherwise) will determine how successful your entertainment enterprise will be. Things to see and do are often offered free, but there is still a lot of money to be made selling to visitors. Research shows that tourists buy mainly food, beverages and souvenirs.” Katherine offered up some other possibilities for agritourism activities such as:  historical recreations, processing demonstrations, accommodations for outdoors sports enthusiasts and mazes.
The Missouri Agritourism study also includes a survey of what recreational activities are being offered by Missouri farms. From wineries to festivals, the variety of Missouri agritourism activities has something for everyone to enjoy. The most common activity was tours, both educational and leisurely. Following tours, is u-pick or self-harvest crops, with over one-third of the farms surveyed participating in the activity.
The operations proven to be successful in agritourism, in the MDA and MU-PRT study, showed that they were “very proactive in their use of marketing strategies to promote their agritourism offerings.” The studies revealed that being involved with “agriculture, business and tourism associations” and “using an average of about five marketing methods to promote (their) farm products and services,” aided significantly in farmer’s “perceptions of their farm economic situation.”
Dr. Carla Barbieri, Assistant Professor for University of Missouri’s Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Program, helped produce the agritourism research. Carla explained that “becoming involved in agritourism means a lot of commitment on the farmer’s lives.” She explained that “it is important to have the time commitment of the farmer and the farmer’s household in order to have viable operations.” Katherine also reflected Carla’s statement by saying, “The No. 1 requirement for a successful (agritourism) venture is an abundance of energy and enthusiasm.”
With enough thought, ingenuity, determination and capital, almost any farm anywhere could be adapted to agritourism.


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