For Immediate Release: January 12, 2005
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(TRENTON) – To determine the impact of the agri-tourism industry on the state’s
economy, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture has authorized Rutgers
University’s Food Policy Institute to conduct a comprehensive one-year study
on agri-tourism in the Garden State, which is set to commence within the
next few weeks.
Last year, members were named to the New Jersey Agri-Tourism Industry Advisory
Council, whose charge is to develop and expand the agri-tourism industry
in the state. However, the current scope of the industry in the state is
unknown since there has never been any formal accounting as to the extent
of the industry.
“This study will help paint a clearer picture as to the economic benefits provided
by agri-tourism operations in the state,” said Agriculture Secretary Charles
M. Kuperus. “Whether it’s a living history farm, pick-your-own operation or food
festival, this study will inform the Department and the newly-formed Council
on efforts to support and promote this agricultural sector.”
The study is being paid for with a $58,000 grant provided by the Department to
the Food Policy Institute. There are five objectives to the survey:
1) Identify and locate New Jersey farm operations that offer some form of agri-tourism
activity. 2) Examine farmers’ and farm leaders’ perceptions of the opportunities
presented by agri-tourism, as well as the challenges. 3) Document the type and
scale of agri-tourism activities offered on New Jersey farms. 4) Evaluate the
characteristics of farms engaging in agri-tourism, including the economic and
non-economic benefits of agri-tourism. 5) Conduct a preliminary review of ordinances
in a cross-section of municipalities to assess their compatibility with agri-tourism
Agri-tourism is the business of making farms travel destinations for educational
and recreational purposes. Activities include hayrides, corn mazes, pick-your-own
operations, farm stands, school tours, farm festivals, and horseback riding.
“Agri-tourism is really a win-win situation, generating more income for farm
households and providing New Jersey residents with wonderful on-farm experiences,” said
Brian Schilling, Associate Director of the Food Policy Institute. “We are doing
a tremendous job preserving our farmland, and agri-tourism stands to be an important
strategy for keeping our farmers – the stewards of that land - economically viable.
“I see this project as a critical first step in positioning farmers interested
in getting into farm-based tourism for success by understanding the current status
of the industry as well as the challenges and opportunities they may face.”
Schilling said the study would produce a directory of identified agri-tourism
operations in New Jersey that will aid in agri-tourism promotion and facilitate
integration of agri-tourism into existing promotional efforts by the state’s
Office of Travel and Tourism.
While there are no agri-tourism statistics in New Jersey, travel and tourism
in general is the state’s second largest industry, generating $31 billion in
revenues annually. As an example, income from agri-tourism related activities
on Vermont farms totaled $19.5 million in 2002.
“Agri-tourism offers the public affordable, family-oriented recreational activities
and opportunities to learn about the production of food and agricultural products
and the state’s rich farming heritage while helping to encourage the preservation
of agricultural lands,” said Secretary Kuperus. “This study will provide a basis
for state and county promotional efforts directed toward expanding agri-tourism
and fill the current gaps in understanding the needs and challenges constraining
the development of agri-tourism in the state.”
The New Jersey Agri-tourism Industry Advisory Council held its first meeting
in the fall. It is made up of five at-large agri-tourism operators; five designated
members from the New Jersey Wine Industry, New Jersey Agricultural Fairs Association,
New Jersey Equine Industry Advisory Council, New Jersey Direct Marketing Association,
and New Jersey agricultural museums/living history farms; and four ex-officio
members: the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, New Jersey Farm Bureau, Rutgers
University, and the New Jersey Commerce and Economic Development Commission.
The Council is an outgrowth of the Department’s economic development strategies
and was created in acknowledgement of the agri-tourism sector’s potential for
growth in New Jersey.
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture provides these agri-tourism links:
- For pick-your-own farms, roadside markets and community farmers’ markets: http://www.state.nj.us/jerseyfresh/
- For a comprehensive list of New Jersey gardens and arboretums: http://www.jerseygrown.nj.gov/njgardens.html
- For New Jersey seafood festivals: http://www.nj.gov/seafood/