Economic Development Strategies
With New Jersey farmers facing rising costs and stagnant commodity prices, agri-tourism offers an important opportunity to generate additional farm income and keep farms economically viable. Agri-tourism presents opportunities for New Jersey growers seeking to add value to their crops and/or capture more of the market price of their products by directly accessing consumers. Many residents consider agriculture a novelty and something to be explored and enjoyed. They desire to share the agricultural experience while increasing farm income at the same time. New Jersey’s agri-tourism industry provides for a great introduction to the agriculture of the Garden State. The educational and economic contributions of agri-tourism to the state’s agricultural economy are many.
Other states have comprehensive agri-tourism programs that will be studied as work moves forward to more closely cooperate with the various agencies that share a common interest in promoting tourism in New Jersey. An example of another state success is Vermont, where $19.5 million of farm income was created by agri-tourism in 2002.
To assist in the development of the agri-tourism industry, the Department will be focusing on three major objectives: developing Strategic Partnerships, Consumer Promotion and Industry Education.
10.1 Develop Strategic Partners
85) STRATEGY – Support the newly formed New Jersey Agri-Tourism Industry Advisory Council in their charge to develop, support, and market this sector of the agricultural community.
86) STRATEGY – Work with the Office of Travel & Tourism to incorporate agri-tourism research into their established travel industry research program. The study could identify existing agri-tourism and the current impediments and opportunities for future growth
87) STRATEGY - Promote agri-tourism to the travel and tourism trade through participation in the annual Governor's Conference on Tourism.
88) STRATEGY - Coordinate an agri-tourism press familiarization tour to acquaint the regional travel and tourism media with New Jersey agri-tourism. This is a standard tourism practice and it should result in trade and consumer press.
10.2 Consumer Promotion
89) STRATEGY - Promote agri-tourism through the New Jersey Office of Travel and Tourism, an enhanced agri-tourism component on the Jersey Fresh website, and through consumer oriented printed materials, press releases and cooperative advertising. Produce an inexpensive Agri-Tourism brochure with website and contact information to be distributed at “Tourist Welcome Centers” and through other special events such as festivals. The brochure would promote seasonal events and special attractions.
90) STRATEGY- Develop a list of agri-tourism activities highlighting the various events throughout New Jersey. An agri-tourism listing on the Jersey Fresh website would include farm markets, agricultural festivals and special attractions like the New Jersey Museum of Agriculture. The locations, dates and a short description of the activities and events could be cross-referenced on an agri-tourism map.
10.3 Industry Education
91) STRATEGY - Coordinate an Agri-Tourism symposium to address common opportunities and challenges and to provide some basic tourism and hospitality training. Conduct outreach activities for agri-tourism operators to promote listings on the Travel & Tourism Calendar of Events. Promote the “Tourism Cooperative Grant Program” to New Jersey’s agri-tourism industry.
92) STRATEGY - Conduct a study in cooperation with Rutgers to determine the current status of agri-tourism operations in New Jersey and review municipal ordinances that might affect the agri-tourism industry in New Jersey.
93) STRATEGY - Seek funding for a farmer survey to be implemented by NJASS to assess the variety of activities, the size of industry, and the current challenges and opportunities.