As of 2012, 33,000 farms integrated agritourism and recreational services such as farm or winery tours, hayrides, hunting, and fishing into their operations.
On-farm agritourism activities represent $704 million in direct tourism revenues for US farms, and likely more significant benefits for their surrounding communities and their tourism support businesses.
Counties with the highest shares of farms and ranches in the contiguous U.S. are found in western Texas, the Rocky Mountain States, and to some extent coastal counties and the Northeast. These seem to be mostly rural areas.
Counties with high agritourism revenue in 2012, appear to be mostly located near large populations, however some are in highly rural areas like those in Wyoming, Montana, and parts of Texas. California’s Napa County brought in the most revenue at $23,723,000, largely driven by the wine industry.
In 2007 most of the agritourism farms were located largely in Texas, the Pacific Coast, the Rocky Mountain States, and the Northeast. Exploring the reasons for these concentrations may help farmers and ranchers take advantage of market opportunities.
In 2012, most of the agritourism farms/ranches lie in the same regions as in 2007, but the number of agritourism businesses becomes more concentrated in these regions. Seven of the top ten counties with the most agritourism are in California. Colorado and Montana follow California for the most agritourism establishments.
Between 2007 and 2012, it appears that the Southwest and some states on the coasts had the greatest growth in terms of the percent of farms/ranches with agritourism. The decreases in agritourism seem to be scattered around the country with a pocket in the northern Rocky Mountain States.
The USDA provided support for our project team to explore what factors influence the growth of agritourism activity in the Western US, including:
Explore the behavior and preferences of agritourism travelers in the Western US, with comparisons to a broader set of US tourists
A spatial analysis across Western state analyzing what factors may influence agritourism activity because of differences in place-based factors (natural amenities, proximity to urban areas, byways and interstates)
Develop case studies of agritourism operations to help better understand how innovations by operators encourages first-time, local and destination agritourists
Building on identified opportunities to cultivate profitable agritourism enterprises