Bringing Customers Back to the Farm
As consumers become more interested in the origin of the foods they eat and devote more of their expendable income on the purchase of value-added foods and unique experiences, interest in the concept of agritourism has grown as a possible opportunity for farmers to market not only their products but also their bucolic way of life. Writing in the summer 2004 issue of the Iowa Ag Review newsletter, Roxanne Clemens, managing director of ISU's Midwest Agribusiness Trade Research and Information Center (MATRIC), cites the case of farmers in the Veneto region of Italy, where she recently studied agritourism and other research topics. "Over the past five years, agritourism in Italy has increased by 25 percent, mostly because of the increase in the number of farms offering overnight accommodations." In Italy, as in other countries of the European Union, farmers have incentives to produce high-value food products and to encourage customers to visit their farms to experience rural activities, social customs, and locally grown items. In the European Union, this kind of agritourism is highly regulated and functions mostly as a secondary activity to support main farming operations. Clemens suggests that the United States would need greater policy incentives to nurture similar agritourism ventures on U.S. farms. The article, titled "Keeping Farmers on the Land: Agritourism in the European Union," is available at www.card.iastate.edu/iowa_ag_review/summer_04/article4.aspx.
(Released July 2004)