The Louisiana Agritourism Connection September 2012

Dora Ann Hatch  |  8/29/2012 12:07:43 AM

Farm Safety Resources

Click here for the PDF version of the Creating Safe Play Areas on Farms brochure.

The fall season is very busy for agritourism operators in our state. As an operator you owe a duty of care to the people who visit your farm. To learn more about how you can minimize risk on your agricultural enterprise, read the best management practices brochure on our website.

The National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety has compiled an excellent resource, “Creating Safe Play Areas on the Farm.” This guide created by the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation in Marshfield, Wis., describes safe play activities generally termed “agri-tainment” and shows how to incorporate them into your operation.

For more information, contact the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety by calling 800-662-6900, emailing nccrahs@mcrf.mfldclin.edu or logging on to their website: http://marshfieldclinic.org/nccrahs/  

In This Edition

Topics covered in this edition include: highlights from the Southeast Agritourism Region Committee meeting, farm safety resources, insurance tips, announcement of two workshops on equine and paddling, and a snapshot of The Rock Ranch in The Rock, Georgia.

Southeast Agritourism Regional Committee Meets in Georgia

In July, I had the opportunity to travel to Thomaston, Ga., to represent Louisiana at the Southeast Agritourism Regional Committee meeting. Representatives from North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Florida and Louisiana were in attendance. Participants included extension agents, tourism officials, state agricultural departments, agritourism associations and a few owners of agritourism operations.

Below are the highlights from the meeting:

– Agritourism is not a fad; it’s been in existence for 35 years and is going strong.

“Agritourism is expanding and re-packaging other forms of tourism originally not promoted as agritourism. Agritourism now encompasses ecotourism, nature-based tourism and gem finding,” according to Charlie Touchette of the Association for Farm Direct Marketing and Agritourism.

States involved in agritourism the longest work as a team with their state departments of tourism, agriculture and highways and cooperative extension service agents.

– The tourism department in most states provides websites and printed marketing materials for tourists. Some state tourism departments assign a person to promote agritourism.

– State agritourism associations are very helpful in states where they exist; they lobby the legislature, work with insurance underwriters and mentor to agritourism operators.

– Most states have familiarization (fam) tours for travel writers to see agritourism operations. These are generally hosted by their tourism office. Cooperative Extension Service agents connect the tourism office with the operator.

– Insurance was discussed at great length. Someone said it best – the insurance agent is your business partner and you need to know him and invite him regularly to your farm so both of you have confidence in each other.

– Most states have agritourism websites hosted by their tourism offices.

– Zoning issues have surfaced in some states where the land is more valuable for housing than agritourism operations.

From the meeting, I concluded that Louisiana is definitely on the right track by suggesting that agritourism operators become certified through the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. This certification process is important to insure safe, well-run operations. Louisiana’s certification process suggests that agritourism operators assess their farms for safety and demonstrate how they will mitigate any unsafe practices. To learn more, log on to: www.lsuagcenter.com/agritourism. The 2008 agritourism limited liability law is voluntary and requires a completion of a plan of operation before certification is granted.

What is Agritourism?

Agritourism, a business venture on a working farm, ranch or agricultural enterprise, is growing in popularity throughout the United States. Agritourism blends entertainment, education and tourism together to provide a fun, exciting and memorable getaway for school trips and family outings. This website provides educational resources to assist new and existing entrepreneurs in developing, expanding and improving their agritourism ventures.

Your Insurance Agent is Your Business Partner

handshake

You and your insurance agent have the same goal: a safe agritourism operation with no accidents and no insurance claims. Think of your agent as your business partner. Begin by establishing a relationship with your agent. Regularly invite your agent to your farm. Show the agent your agritourism operation and share how you use certain safety measures to prevent accidents. Invite the agent to have input into your operation. And when you add something new, invite them out for a first look. It’s important that you and your agent are both comfortable with the safety of your operation.

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