ERC’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee sponsored a gathering to examine this rapidly changing segment of the agriculture industry.
The expansion of urban boundaries is bringing non-farmers into agricultural areas. Local governments are faced with serving a new constituency unfamiliar with agriculture and often at the expense of local farm operations. As zoning ordinances are adopted or otherwise change, so do the operational freedoms farmers traditionally enjoyed before the advent of zoning jurisdiction over their fields and farmsteads.
Each state and province has its own laws and standards regarding right to farm and agritourism. Many of these regulations are insufficient to cover the quickly growing list farm-related activities farmers are using in an effort to offset losses due to low commodity prices and high input costs.
Agritourism is a field that is growing in popularity as producers try to diversify and increase profits. By combining agriculture and tourism, agritourism can offer new sources of revenue for the agricultural industry, but also presents potential problems and legal complications for agritourism operators.