The New York Times has an article today on agritourism in the States. "Tilling the Tourist Magnet" discusses the struggles of small family farms to make a living in today's difficult economic times and the potential for agritourism to bring in income to balance the budget.
"The United States Department of Agriculture predicts that this year the average farm household will get only about 13 percent of its income from farm sources. Agritourism is appealing because it increases the family’s income from the farm, potentially reducing the need for off-farm jobs."
"The U.S.D.A.’s census of agriculture, which is conducted every five years, estimated that 23,000 farms offered agritourism activities in 2007, bringing in an average of $24,300 each in additional income. The number of farms taking part fell from the previous census, in 2002, but at that time the average agritourism income per farm was just $7,200.
California, the nation’s largest farm state, was among the leaders in agritourism, according to the census, with nearly 700 farms averaging more than $50,000 in agritourism income."
Since these stats come from 2007 figures, I wonder what the impact of agritourism is on the economics of small farmers after the September 2008 crash. Is it still bringing in $50,000 in income to small farms -- more than the food farming income?
Agritourism is a trend that is increasing farm income while giving city dwellers an opportunity to experience the rural lifestyle -- I'd recommend planting your crops and tilling the soil, even if you do give agritourism a go. Diversify your farm income with agritourism, don't replace your farm income with agritourism. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.