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August 9, 2023

How to Start an Agritourism Business to Diversify Farm Income 

What is agritourism? 

Agritourism is any venture on a farm or ranch that’s not directly related to raising and harvesting produce or livestock commercially. Generally, it complements the farm or ranch’s usual undertakings. 

In this article, we outline the basics of agritourism and give you some ideas on how you can get started earning extra revenue for your operation.  

How Farms Benefit from Agritourism  

In a study of 173 farmers, respondents were asked to rank the importance of agritourism benefits. Educating visitors, preserving farmland, and sharing agricultural heritage were named the top three most important benefits—but there are so many more.  

Importance of Agritourism Benefits

(Scale ranged from "1=Very Unimportant" to "5=Very Important". Farmers' responses were weighted)

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A table showcasing the top ten best places to live in the United States, with a focus on agritourism ventures.

Source: North Carolina Agritourism Networking Association

1. Diversified Income 

The most obvious benefit of agritourism is an additional income stream. Some farms find that agritourism even becomes their primary source of income. Others benefit from seasonal income boosts from holiday events like corn mazes and pumpkin patches. The extra income can also help offset the unpredictability that often comes with commodity markets. 

2. Advocating for Agriculture 

Agritourism provides an opportunity for farmers to share their way of life with people who didn’t grow up around agriculture. Too many people are distanced from where their food comes from. By inviting them to the farm, operators provide important education and awareness of rural traditions.  

3. Preserving Farmland 

Agricultural land is disappearing. A 2022 study estimated an average of 2,000 acres of farmland are lost each day. The extra income that comes from agritourism can be reinvested into the land, keeping it out of the hands of developers. Agritourism can also help drum up public support for legislative policies that affect farmland.  

Agritourism Business Ideas 

If you’re thinking about starting an agritourism business but you’re not sure where to begin, try looking for inspiration from other successful farmers. Search for farm events in your area and your industry and take note of what appears to be popular with residents near you. 

Agritourism doesn’t have to mean a total restructuring of how you do business. It can be as simple as a U-Pick field or as involved as hosting company retreats. Some other ideas to consider:  

  • A farm tour during set hours 
  • A farm shop that offers direct to consumer items for purchase 
  • A wine or cheese making class 
  • A hands-on farm experience, like milking dairy cows 
  • Overnight accommodations 
  • Wedding venues and events 

Marketing Your Agritourism Business 

Unfortunately for many farms, the old adage of “build it, and they will come” doesn’t hold true. It can be hard to attract people to your farm, especially people from urban centers. That’s where marketing becomes crucial.  

1. Create Seasonal Deals 

One of the easiest ways for farmers to campaign for their agritourism business is by creating seasonal deals or events. Things like haunted hayrides or start-of-season farm tour discounts can generate a lot of foot traffic—and revenue.  

2. Connect with Your Local Community 

Reach out to local churches and clubs and ask if they have a community bulletin board where you can advertise your business. Use Facebook events or other event platforms like Eventbrite to market your business for free.  

3. Engage in Online Social Platforms 

If you haven’t done so already, create a business page for your operation and utilize groups to connect with like-minded individuals. Posts can range from behind-the-scenes glimpses of your operation to seasonal recipes to everything in between. 

4. Set a Marketing Budget 

A budget keeps you on track to spend money when needed and skip excess. For example, rather than spending money on branded graphics, create them yourself through free editing applications and use that money to put dollars behind paid advertisements on social media networks. 

Financing Your New Agritourism Business 

As the nation’s leader in financial services for rural America, we help agribusinesses of all kinds to grow and succeed. We offer a range of financial services that can be customized for your unique needs. We meet you where you are and find solutions for long-term success with a team of specialized experts who understand the agriculture industry.  

If you’re looking to begin an agritourism business but you need to secure financing, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our farmer-focused team is ready to help you understand your options.  

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