The Promising Practice of Agritourism

Primary author: Trevor Lane

Primary college/unit: Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences
Campus: WSU Ferry County Extension


Research revealed small farms and ranches struggle financially. Since the 1930’s, the USDA states more than 4 million farms have been lost completely or absorbed by large or corporate farms. Hence, diverse revenue streams and extra income are crucial to success. In 2012, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) showed that approximately $44.1 million in agritourism activities benefitted small to mid-sized farms in Washington. This farm or ranch revenue has a direct impact on the State’s economy. Thus, the goal of this research project was to demonstrate agritourism as a promising practice for small farms and ranches. However, it was hypothesized there are barriers to startup and achieving success.

Agritourism is any activity that brings a person to a farm for entertainment or education. Activities include but are not limited to fairs, festivals, farm to fork meals, bed and breakfast operations, dude ranches, U-Pick farms, farm stands, horseback riding and more.

While agritourism can generate extra farm or ranch income, a review of the literature revealed more than 60% of small farms are precluded from agritourism participation. Therefore, success means overcoming agritourism startup barriers. A qualitative study and modified gap analysis using Knowledge, Motivation, and Organizational (KMO) influences as a framework revealed the barriers and how to achieve success in pursuit of extra farm or ranch income. The study revealed how to increase knowledge, foster motivation, and leverage organizational resources to overcome barriers.

To help small farms or ranches pursue agritourism, Agriculture Professionals must know how to help.