Taking your Farm Destination to the Next Level Southern New England Agritourism Business Conference March 3, 2010 Stu Nunnery, RICAPE
Goals for Today • Colleagues not competitors. Identify our common interest to generate on-farm revenues through agritourism. • Share information &experiences. • Review challenges and opportunities.
Goals for today • Identify services in the region – NEFW, CT Grown, VNE and other partners that are focused on you and agritourism. • Link our efforts across state lines to sustain farms, farmers and grow this industry. • Answer the question – “What’s next for you and for agritourism?”
New England FarmWays • 2005, RICAPE 501c3 non-profit • Training, Information and promotional hub for agritourism in RI/SNE • Subscription Service/memberships • Website, weekly newsletter • Farm Site assessments • Liaison work with travel and tourism, business and philanthropic communities town councils, planning and zoning boards • Maintain media presence
New England FarmWays • Seven State Partnership – West Virginia to Maine– State agencies, colleges and universities, non profits and small businesses • SARE Grant awarded to the Partnership in 2008 to support a regional agritourism information transfer and training initiative that was launched last year at SNE and continues
New England FarmWays • For the Public: social and educational events - Feast in the Field, Sensory Sojourns, etc. • This year – 90-sec TV spots in all seven NE markets for 35 weeks promoting farm visits in New England • Corporate sponsorships for events • More training events, webinars • Growing membership • Partnerships/JWU
The Agricultural Business Model – • Production & Regulatory focus • Requires various agricultural and business Skills • Crops & Livestock • Production of commodities, farm and value-added products • Marketing of same.
The Agritourism Business Model • Focus on visitor services • Interdependent businesses across multiple sectors • Requires new business skills • Involves multiple enterprises • The Farm IS the product • Selling the Farm “Experience.”
The Agricultural Business Model • Wholesale at market/retail at farmer’s markets • Business plans • Risk management/labor • The usual costs • Dependence on AG service providers – USDA, FSA, NRCS and state Depts. of AG • Commitment
The Agritourism Business Model – The Shifting Sands • Retail on site • Site assessments, Marketing plans • New risk exposures • Costs with an emphasis on Value • New service providers in various sectors of the economy
Survey Results – 230 Respondents • Capturing new customers • Marketing materials, strategies • Retail merchandising, point of sale and pricing • Start ups • Farm stands • The internet • Right to Farm, Local Ordinances • Crops and Value added products • Field activities for visitors • Farm Site Assessments
Opportunities • The small business community has many resources and services available to you. • 30M visitors within a days drive • Agriculture’s profile is improving • AT one of fastest growing sectors of tourism nationwide • New England is the direct marketing capital of the US
Opportunities • The local food and local farm scene touches every base. • Tourism preferences are for the “authentic.” • History of the region plays into and off the farm setting. • Demand from tour operators is surging. • In region marketing support is growing NEFW, VNE, state agencies, CVB’s, Discover NE, etc. • Agritourism is an integral part of the sustainability movement.
Challenges • Assumptions: • All this good news means more visitors, more revenue. • Right to farm is a license. • Everyone wants to come to the farm. • Cost is no object on the farm. • Local support means state support & town support.
Challenges • State Depts. Of Ag are being downsized and under-funded • No uniform definition of agriculture at the local level - “agricultural activity,” “alternative enterprises” are open for interpretation and/or are missing from the language in comp plans and zoning regulations • Need for more training, technical assistance and marketing support - specifically for agritourism • Need for more grants, capital and easy credit, • Pesky taxes, and……
The Agritourism Business Model - Panelists • Ron Olsen, CT Dept. of AG • George Krivda, CT Dept of AG • Michael Richard, Dwyer Insurance • Milena Erwin, CT SBDC • Doug Jobling RISBDC