Malinda Geisler, Program Specialist, Value-Added Agricultural Program
Agritourism: the practice of touring agricultural areas to see farms and often to participate in farm activities. This was one of the new words added to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary in 2006.
Agritourism is a relatively new term to Iowa. The Ag Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC), in association with Value Added Ag Program (VAAP), is positioned to take the lead in agritourism development in Iowa. AgMRC offers an extensive information section on agritourism. In addition to a general overview of agritourism, the section includes information, resources and business profiles on game birds, nature-based tourism, hunting leases, equine agritourism, wine tours and rural weddings.
For the past three years, AgMRC has participated in the North American Farmers Direct Marketing Association annual conference and trade show. Because of this involvement, AgMRC is aware of the national issues affecting farmers involved with direct farming, including agritourism and has established contacts with agritourism specialists from across the country.
The VAAP submitted a grant proposal entitled Expanding On-Farm Product Sales Through Agritourism to USDAs Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program in February. Although the grant was not funded, the process spurred a change to another project called Market Maker.
Developed at the University of Illinois, Market Maker is an interactive Web site that connects food producers, distributors, buyers and sellers. Market Maker integrates the power of U.S. Census Data, NAICS Codes and Global Satellite Imagery (GSI). By overlaying this data and technology, consumers are able to find producers and producers are able to target their customers through demographic and psycho graphic profiling. Agritourism will be another feature farms may register in the database beginning in 2007.
I served on the program committee for the National Extension Tourism Conference scheduled for Sept. 10-13, 2006, in Burlington, Vermont. I helped develop the agritourism agenda and helped secure presentation opportunities for ISU at the conference.
Groundwork is currently being done to facilitate discussions regarding Iowa agritourism. The discussions, if successful, could result in some type of working group similar to ISUs work with the BioEconomy Working Group and the Pork Niche Market Working Group. A working group could result in the creation of a roadmap for Iowa agritourism including a definable entity to coordinate agritourism development and promotion.
121 Adding Value and Enhancing Agricultural Products
Page last updated:
September 5, 2006
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