The Louisiana Agritourism Connection September 2015

Dora Ann Hatch  |  8/22/2015 12:09:01 AM


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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 get-away 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.

In this Edition

Nearly a million children visit farms and ranches each year, and the majority of these visitors are unfamiliar with the agricultural environment – and the hazards found there. It is the responsibility of agritourism professionals to keep their operations safe.

Recent news articles across the United States have heightened interest in whether or not agritourism is safe. So, this newsletter shares the agritourism limited liability law, plan of operation and brochures written to help agritourism professionals identify safety hazards.

Is Agritourism Safe?

girl feeding horse

An Associated Press article, "Agritourism Growth Sparks Concern over Safety, Liability," written by Lisa Rathke on August 16, 2015, that appeared in the Washington Post has put agritourism in the spotlight. The article lists accidents and concerns over whether or not agritourism operators are concerned with safety.

According to Marsha Salzwedel, an agritourism safety specialist with the National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety in Marshfield, Wisconsin, “The majority of these incidents if not all of them are pretty much preventable."

Attention to prevention of accidents is part of the Louisiana’s Agritourism Limited Liability Law (R.S. 9:2795.4), which was passed in 2008 to limit the liability of agritourism professionals for injuries that occur through no fault of the agritourism professional. Although the law was passed to limit liability, the committee under the leadership of Representative Andy Anders also inserted a provision in the law that required agritourism professionals to create a “plan of operation.” The plan includes listing  activities, their risks, suggestions for minimizing those risks and a plan for the location of warning signs. All these elements help ensure the safety of guests to the farm.


Plan of Operation

plan of operation

The requirement to complete a plan of operation differentiates the Louisiana Agritourism Limited Liability Law from others passed in the United States. It holds the agritourism professional accountable for planning safe, non-life-threatening activities for their guests. The Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry determines the list of approved agritourism activities and provides certification for applicants whose plans have been reviewed and approved by the LSU AgCenter. To learn more about the application process, visit the LSU AgCenter’s agritourism website: click on “Agritourism Certification Steps.”

Agritourism Best Management Practices

Best Management Practices

The “Best Management Practices and Plan of Operation” brochure written for agritourism professionals suggests practices that an agritourism professional can use to minimize risks in an agirtourism operation. These best management practices can be used in the plan of operation under “suggestions to minimize risks.”

Additional Farm Safety Resources

national childrens

The National Children’s Center, working with a broad group of stakeholders including Marshfield Clinic in Marshfield, Wis., has developed health and safety guidelines and easy-to-use checklists specific to children to help agritourism operators manage health and safety on the farm.

Agritourism Health and Safety Guidelines for Children

Agritourism Health and Safety Guidelines

Agritourism Health and Safety Guidelines for Children was developed to give recommendations for farm owners to help reduce the risk of illness and injury to children visiting farms. It was written specifically for owners of farms who may operate an agritourism operation in addition to regular farming activities, as well as for farmers who may host a one-time event such as a tour for schools and other youth groups. The guidelines are also appropriate for larger, long-term agritourism attractions. Information contained in this brochure can also be used to complete requirements for the Louisiana Agritourism Limited Liability Law.

Policies and Procedures Guidelines

Polices and Procedures Guidelines

The Policies and Procedures Guide is a supplement to Agritourism Health and Safety Guidelines for Children. This guide helps agritourism operators and workers prepare and plan for emergencies, pre-arranged visits by groups, documentation, supervision of children, proper hand-washing, traffic and parking, fires, tractors and display equipment, locations for barriers and fencing, pest control, and hayride operations. It contains checklists to help create, revise or add to the farm’s own policies and procedures. This is an excellent resource guide for agritourism professionals to review and include as is appropriate in their plans of operation.

Worksite Guide

Worksite Guide

The Worksite Guide is another supplemental brochure to Agritourism Health and Safety Guidelines for Children. This guide helps agritourism operators check the operation’s preparedness for emergencies, communication with guests, animals and hand-washing, fires, tractors and display equipment, walkways and structures, barriers and fencing, pest control, food handling, recordkeeping,along with hayride and corn maze operations. It contains checklists to help agritourism operators perform a hazard identification walk-through to view and correct hazards before visits by guests. The checklist format would be excellent for agritourism operators to adopt so they can show they work on safety issues.

Safety Guidelines for Youth Working in Gardens

Community-Based Agriculture: Safety Guidelines for Youth Working in Gardens is another brochure that provides guidance for adults who are making decisions about what work is appropriate for children. The brochure can also be used as a resource for agritourism professionals to determine what kinds of activities are suitable for their guests and how much supervision should be given.

Free Webinar on "Why Local Food Matters"

A webinar titled “Why Local Food Matters,” co-sponsored by the four Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDC), will be hosted on September 10 at 10 a.m. central time.

This webinar will provide an overview of consumer demand and how USDA Ag Marketing Services Local Food Research and Development Division is trying to help farmers and food marketers take advantage of the recent surge in local food demand.

No advance registration is required. Simply click on the link on the day to join. Enter as Guest with just your name. A clickable link is

To learn more about agritourism in Louisiana, contact Dora Ann Hatch, LSU AgCenter agritourism coordinator, at (318) 927-9654 Ext. 229 or email her.

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