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Agritourism: a Growing Industry in the Panhandle

Agritourism - Corn Maze

Agritourism – Holmes County Corn Maze – Photo Courtesy of Ryan Hammack

Agritourism is an industry that provides alternative income opportunities for Panhandle agricultural producers, while providing recreational opportunities for tourists, schools, churches, and other organizations.  Agritourism activities also promote agriculture, and the vital role that agriculture plays in our daily lives, and the Florida economy.  It combines Florida’s two largest industries– tourism and agriculture – and allows farmers to open their agricultural land to the general public for education and entertainment.

While the term “agritourism” is a recently contrived term, it is not a new concept. In the United States, agritourism dates back to the late 1800s, when city dwellers would visit friends and family in the county in an attempt to escape the heat and stress of the city. Similarly, agriculturally-based entertainment is nothing new. After World War II, many people visited rural areas for a change of scenery and recreation. It was during this time that horseback riding for recreational purposes became popular with urbanites (Holland and Wolfe, 2001).

Florida Statute 570.88, provides limited liability protection for agritourism owners, operators and  their employer or employees against injury, death, or damage to participants, unless the agritourism operator commits an act that constitutes gross negligence or willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the participant. This liability protection should not be considered a total substitute for insurance protection.  In most instances, however, agritourism owners and operators who use diligence in considering the well-being of their guests will be protected from frivolous lawsuits.  For more information on liability related to agritourism see our UF/IFAS publication on Agritourism.

Agritourism includes many potential on farm activities including corn mazes, hay rides, horseback riding, viewing wildlife, and fee fishing among other possibilities.  For more information on agritourism take a look at the following links, or contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office for more information.

 

PG

Author: Shep Eubanks – bigbuck@ufl.edu

Shep Eubanks is the County Extension Director and Agriculture Agent in Holmes County.

Shep Eubanks

Permanent link to this article: http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/10/18/agritourism-a-growing-industry-in-the-panhandle/