Farm-Based Recreation: A Statistical Profile
Farm-based recreation provides an important niche market for farmers, but limited empirical information is available on the topic. Access to two USDA databases, the 2004 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) and the 2000 National Survey on Recreation and the Environment, provided researchers with a deeper understanding of who operates farm-based recreation enterprises, such as hunting and fishing operations, horseback riding businesses, on-farm rodeos, and petting zoos. Regression analysis identified the importance of various farmer and farm characteristics, as well as local and regional factors. [Excerpted from report]
Farm-based recreation or agritourism, which includes hunting, fishing, horseback riding, and other on-farm activities, provided income to about 52,000 U.S. farms (2.5 percent of total U.S. farms) in 2004.
The study found the South accounts for more than half of all farms receiving recreational income, followed by the Midwest, which accounts for about a quarter. Recreational farm operations are also more likely to be in completely rural nonmetropolitan counties and in areas dependent on recreation in general. Farms involved in recreation require a steady stream of consumers and should be located near cities. Conversely, farms located farther from metropolitan areas have a greater potential for offering high quality habitat as might be demanded by hunters, anglers, and trail riders.
Farm operators were more likely to run a farm-based recreation business if:
• They had a high net worth.
• They worked fewer hours off the farm during the summer.
• Their property was a greater distance from a city of at least 10,000 in population.
• Their county had an abundance of natural amenities (water, climate, and topography).
The amount of income earned from farm-based recreation is a function of net worth, but otherwise there is very little overlap between factors associated with a farmer’s decision to provide on-farm recreational opportunities and the amount of money he or she can expect to earn from such activities. Earnings tend to be highest in more densely populated counties, in areas with low or negative growth rates, and in counties where the overall recreational activity (farm and nonfarm) is high.[Abstract excerpted from report]