While the term “agritourism” just entered the Merriam Webster dictionary in 2006, the activity has a rich history. Basically, agritourism is any activity that generates supplemental income for working farms and ranches by connecting their resources and products with visitors. It includes on-farm and off-farm activities. To borrow from California’s language*, agritourism “promotes farm products and generates additional farm income, in the process of providing visitors with entertainment, recreation, hands-on participation and education”.
Here in Oregon, where culinary tourism is already a major draw, we incorporate elements of culinary tourism into agritourism. Here, tourists participate in agritourism when they experience a working landscape by visiting a farm or ranch, or via authentic local flavors by meeting the producer and/or tasting the product.
Oregon statutes define agritourism more narrowly from a legal and regulatory perspective, permitting very specific activities on exclusive farm-use (EFU) land. For the purposes of compliance, Section III of this handbook is geared toward this narrower definition.
This handbook focuses on gearing up for “tourists” as opposed to local residents. Travel Oregon uses a specific definition of “tourist” to differentiate their activity from that of local customers: Tourists travel at least 50 miles from home, or they stay overnight at their destination. That’s not to say that local residents don’t visit local farms and ranches. But visitors from outside your area bring new dollars into your community. That’s our focus here.
This handbook is brought to you by the Oregon Agritourism Network, established in 2015 to grow high quality Oregon agritourism, guided by these goals and vision for the future. Please check back in the future, as the handbook will be regularly improved and updated. If you’d like to see or contribute additional information, please contact Hilary Sager at Hilary@TravelOregon.com.
*An often-used definition of agritourism is included in “Agritourism and Nature Tourism in California,” a publication of the University of California’s Small Farm Center. The full definition specifies activities that occur on a working agricultural or horticultural operation. Here in Oregon, we also consider some off-farm/ranch activities to fall under the agritourism umbrella.
“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.”