LSU AgCenter offers ‘roadshow’ to help minimize risks for agritourism businesses

Mary Ann Van Osdell, Hatch, Dora Ann  |  7/28/2009 1:01:31 AM

News Release Distributed 07/27/09

BOSSIER CITY, La. – People interested in agritourism learned how to minimize risks and develop a plan of operation at three educational programs presented by the LSU AgCenter July 21 and 23.

Agritourism is a business venture on a working farm, ranch or agricultural enterprise that offers educational and entertaining experiences for visitors while generating supplemental income for the farm or business owner, according to Dora Ann Hatch, LSU AgCenter community rural development agent.

The LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry have teamed up to offer information about a voluntary certification program to mitigate potential hazards and limit liability for certain agritourism ventures, Hatch said.

The LSU AgCenter will review the operation plans with farmers and business people to help identify and address possible risks on their operations through recommended best management practices, she said.

Hatch said risks could include such things as uneven walkways, roaming animals, poor lighting, improper hand-washing facilities, unlocked storage areas and no rails on wagons.

The plan can be completed online at www.lsuagcenter.com/agritourism. The LSU AgCenter will forward approved plans to the agriculture department for certification.

The Web site also includes an agritourism blog and newsletter.

Organizers say the roadshow was developed for farmers looking to diversify their businesses and add supplemental income or seeking new alternatives to keep present farm workers employed during the offseason.

U.S. Rep. John Fleming sent an announcement that read: “The agritourism industry is key to our state and especially north Louisiana. I want to commend you on blending entertainment, education and tourism together to provide a fun, exciting and memorable getaway for school trips and family outings.”

He also thanked the two agencies for their partnership “to provide economic development and cultural opportunities to our area.”

Four additional roadshow presentations have been scheduled for:

– July 30, 10 a.m. to noon at the LSU AgCenter’s Calhoun Research Station, 321 Hwy. 80 East, Calhoun.

– Aug. 20, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the LSU AgCenter’s Dean Lee Research Station, 8208 Tom Bowman Drive, Alexandria.

– Aug. 27, 10 a.m. to noon at the LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station, 21549 Old Covington Highway, Hammond.

– Oct. 6, 10 a.m. to noon at the LSU AgCenter’s Rice Research Station, 1373 Caffey Road, Rayne.

The roadshows are free, and no registration is required. For more information, contact Hatch at (318) 927-9654 or dhatch@agcenter.lsu.edu.

Mary Ann Van Osdell

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