Agritourism Safety

Dora Ann Hatch, Fields, Lee Ann  |  2/10/2017 6:08:22 PM

Agritourism, simply defined, is any activity that brings visitors to the farm. Agritourism began in the 1800’s when farming children returned for the city to their farming roots to visits parents, aunt and uncles. Today, our farm visitors are different. They lack the day to day operation experience of farm life. Their farming knowledge and farming experiences are a result of reading books, watching movies and television shows.

Our new age agritourism visitors are curious and want to touch, pet and feed the animals they see. They don’t understand the temperament of animals or the risk of getting too close. Sometimes these actions result in injuries. Curious visitors must be protected from their actions by the owners of agritourism operations.

To provide a barrier of liability protection to the agritourism operator, the Louisiana Legislature passed the Agritourism Limited Liability Law in 2008. That law encourages agritourism operators to become a certified operator with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry. The certification process requires completion of a safety plan known as a “plan of operation.”

Plans of operation are as unique as are the agritourism operations themselves. So, in 2016, Dr. Maria Bampasidou and Dora Ann Hatch of the LSU AgCenter, made application and were awarded a grant to teach agriculture safety to those who open their farms to tourists of all kinds, i.e. school tours, home school events and family days. The grant will fund two workshops.

Featured speaker, Ms. Marsha Salzwedel, agritourism safety specialist with the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health, will travel to PaPa Simpson’s Farm in Arcadia on March 7th and to Mrs. Heather’s Strawberry Farm in Albany on March 9th to share how agritourism operators can keep their visitor’s safe. In a phone interview, Ms. Salzwedel said, “I’ve worked a lot with farmers who offer agritourism activities on their farms. One thing they all tell me is they want their visitors to have fun – and be safe while they are doing it.”

To prepare for the workshop, Ms. Salzwedel will travel to each destination the day before, tour the farm and intentionally create some safety issues with the help of agritourism operators, Jerry Simpson and Heather Hughes. During the workshop, participants will take a guided tour of the farm to see how many safety issues they can identify.

Salzwedel suggests that agritourism operators, insurance agents, members of the chamber, members of the tourism boards or anyone involved in any form of group activity attend. Registration is open through February 28, 2017. The workshops are free to those who register and lunch and educational materials will be provided at no cost. To register for the March 7th Arcadia workshop: www.lsuagriarcadia.eventbrite.com For the Albany workshop on March 9th: www.lsuagrialbany.eventbrite.com

For more information, contact: Dora Ann Hatch, LSU AgCenter’s agritourism coordinator, at (318) 927-9654 x 229 or e-mail her at dhatch@agcenter.lsu.edu. Visit our website: www.lsuagcenter.com/agritourism

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