III. Complying with Legal and Regulatory Requirements
Now that you have some preliminary agritourism business ideas, you’re ready to navigate the maze of legal and regulatory permits required to operate. This chapter is designed to provide the information needed to successfully tackle this challenge without hitting too many obstacles.
In Oregon, the first and most complex factor to consider is statewide land-use law (including the provisions for agritourism); these laws drive what is permissible. While most agritourism land use regulations focus on preserving real working farms on land zoned “Exclusive Farm Use”(EFU), there are also land-use implications for forest and mixed-zoned acreage. As you may know from your current business operations, rules and regulations change often – thus, you’ll also find website links to the latest information from the relevant agencies in charge of administration and enforcement.
An additional complexity is that these laws are primarily implemented at the county level, and each county interprets the law in its own way. This means that, although we reference activities deemed legal and acceptable on farm land as defined by the Oregon Revised Statutes, your county may not have adopted these statutes into local code. In fact, the regulations vary dramatically from one county to the next. So you’ll want to investigate how your specific county treats agritourism ventures. The state statutes offer a useful framework and a common language for discussions with your local officials.
As you’re wading through this process, keep in mind that rules and regulations are generally written by lawyers; those of us without a legal degree can feel like we must speak a second language to figure out exactly what we need to do to comply. To save yourself time and more headaches, we highly recommend reading the regulations, making a list of questions, and contacting the licensing agency before you begin your application. An informal review meeting, or in some cases just a phone call, will make the application process much easier for you and the agency. By establishing that relationship early, you can cultivate an ally, an advocate and an expert to guide you not just in your start-up phase, but also as you discover new wrinkles or new ideas.
- Oregon County Planning Department Contact Information
- New: Introduction to Agritourism Policy (Produced July 2017)
State Land Use Law Related to Agritourism
- State Law Summary Chart: “Allowable Activities in Exclusive Farm Use Zones, as included in ORS 215.213 and ORS 215.283“
- Companion to Summary Chart: “Guidance on Specific State Land Use Regulations Affecting Agritourism“
- A-Z Glossary of Common Land Use Terms
Specific Permitting Considerations
- Uses Permitted in EFU-Zoned Farms vs. Wineries
- Using BLM Land for Events
- Keeping it Legal: Regulations and Licenses for Growing and Selling Food in Oregon
- Food Service Guidance at Wineries
As you get your legal ducks in a row, you may want to look ahead to Section IV. It will help you identify, reduce and even eliminate other risks associated with your operation.
“The information included in the Oregon Agritourism Handbook should not be construed or treated as legal advice or counsel on matters of legal, tax, land-use or other policy. The Oregon Agritourism Handbook is strictly written to provide information to individuals interested in pursuing an agritourism business. This information is intended as a guide and resource hub. It is the responsibility of the individual to determine and understand all applicable laws, rules and regulations for each specific business and location. This handbook only offers information on where and how to connect with those resources. In no way is the information compiled intended to replace advice obtained from professionals such as an attorney, insurance agent, financial planner or land-use planner. Content and outside links found in the Oregon Agritourism Handbook do not necessarily reflect the views of the State of Oregon, Travel Oregon or the Oregon Tourism Commission. While the writers of this content have taken precautions to ensure the accuracy of the information provided, please note that content is subject to change. The advice of qualified and licensed professionals should be sought before embarking on any new or expanded business venture.”