Monday, March 21, 2011

A Map of Agritourism Distribution

The share of farms engaged in agritourism is high in the West, where agricultural lands tend to have lower yields due to low rainfall and mountainous terrain. (source: usda)


  1. Interesting. I'm totally clueless about why Texas has such a high percentage of agritourism income. Is there a lot of hunting going on down there? (Watch out for Dick Cheney!)

    Can someone enlighten me? Thanks!

  2. DB - You are definitely on to something. Look at the bird hunting areas in the Dakotas, too.

  3. The problem is with the definition. Until this winter, we leased out land for duck hunting, but I would not define it as "agritourism." The activity was accessory and incidental to our farm operation. It was not integrated into our agricultural activity, even though we are a farm. Nonetheless, that income was included on our 2007 Census of Agriculture form as farm income. Fishing presents the same issue.

    True agritourism is integrated into the farm activities and management. In Italy, they have a well-developed system of "Agritursimos." People stay at the farm, have a meal, tour of the operation, and perhaps some mildly participatory work with a glass of wine at hand.

    The Census does not do a good job of refining agricultural activities. I am not sure there was a question which would allow true agritoursim income to be reported. There may be value in a set of questions that do not vary from census to census. But a lot information is lost when the census doesn't adapt.

    For a decade I refused to participate in any data gathering that was not mandatory. Each time, I wrote the state statistician requesting that they separate out organic farms. I pointed out that it was absurd to ask me about pesticide use and markets without that information. I receive one very rude letter back, but mostly they would have an enumerator call me and try extract the information. 2007 was the first year the word "organic" even appeared on the national census. At the state level in Oregon, they still don't include the question, nearly a decade after NOP implementation.

    The definition problem is also becoming apparent with small market farms such as ours where we grow a wide range of crops, sometimes in very small units. The census questions fail to provide much resolution. Increasingly crops we grow don't fit the census definitions, so we shoehorn them into one category or another, neither satisfactory.

    Anthony Boutard
    Ayers Creek Farm

  4. Anthony
    Thanks very much! Filling out forms and questionnaires is never easy, and you explain the challenges well.