Opening farms to visitors boosts nearby farms' direct sales, and vice versa

Farmers use many marketing strategies to diversify their incomes and stay in business. New research suggests that two of these strategies, agritourism, and direct farm sales, complement one another when they occur within the same community. The findings could help farmers and the local organizations that support them plan strategically for farm resilience and growth.

"Agritourism and direct sales are important and growing supplemental sources of revenue for farmers, allowing some to stay in business when they otherwise would not be able to," said Claudia Schmidt, assistant professor of marketing and local/regional food systems in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, who led the research.

"Our study found that more agritourism operations are associated with more direct sales in the same county, and vice versa. That is, when these activities take place near one another, they are complementary, not competitive."

Using several data sources, including the U.S. Census of Agriculture, the researchers conducted an analysis at the U.S. county level to determine whether these activities detract from or reinforce one another, both within counties and across county lines. Specifically, they examined farm income generated from agritourism and direct sales, the extent to which they are correlated, and how these activities are geographically clustered.


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