1 Agritourism in Missouri: A Profile of Farms by Visitor Numbers Presented to: Sarah Gehring Missouri Department of Agriculture Prepared by: Carla Barbieri, Ph.D. Christine Tew, MS candidate April 2010 University of Missouri Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism
2 AGRITOURISM IN MISSOURI: A PROFILE OF FARMS BY VISITOR NUMBERS This report explores the differences in farm and farmer attributes, marketing and management practices, and economic performance among agritourism farms in Missouri receiving different numbers of visitors 1. This is the second report derived from the Missouri Agritourism Survey, a study conducted in 2009 by the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the University of Missouri Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism to strengthen the understanding of Agritourism in Missouri. Agritourism is defined in this study as farms currently receiving visitors for recreation, tourism or leisure activities for fifteen days or more per year. Analysis for this report includes 152 Missouri agritourism farms that participated in the survey. Responding farms were divided into three groups (i.e., segments) based on their number of visitors received between January and December The first segment was labeled farms as they received less than 500 visitors during the year. The second segment, farms received between 500 and 2,999 visitors, while those in the farms category reported at least 3,000 visitors during Chi-square and Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) tests at a ten percent significance level (α=0.10) were used to compare the study segments regarding attributes concerning their operator, farmland, agritourism offerings, economic performance, marketing strategies and management indicators. Figure 1. Study segments 23.0% 26.3% 50.7% Farms (Less than 500 visitors) Farms ( visitors) Farms (3000 or more visitors) (n=152) 1 A complete description of the research procedures for this study and a comprehensive profile of agritourism farms in Missouri can be found at:
3 Comparing Physical and Human Resources across Farms with Different Numbers of Visitors Total farm acreage, the number of acres farmed and proximity to an urban area were examined to determine whether farms receiving different numbers of visitors have different physical resources. Results showed small differences in the three physical characteristics across the study segments, and those differences were not statistically significant (Table 2). Non statistical differences are important in this case because they suggest that the three physical indicators examined are not associated with the number of visitors an agritourism operation receives. In other words, farm operators should not discount the opportunity to add agritourism activities based upon their farm size or proximity to highly populated areas, as these physical characteristics appear to be neither an impediment nor an advantage to developing agritourism operations. Table 2. A comparison of physical farm resources among study segments. Farm Size (n=144) Number of farmland acres Not different Number of acres in production Not different Distance from an Urban Area (n=150) Less than 10 miles 10.5% 17.5% 14.7% Not different miles 18.4% 15.0% 20.6% miles 30.3% 35.0% 29.4% 60 miles or more 40.8% 32.5% 35.3% Critical value p< Agritourism farms with different visitor levels were also examined in terms of three characteristics of their main operators: number of generations in farming, educational background, and whether s/he has retired from a previous job or profession. The generations in farming and educational background of the farm operator were examined as they indicate
4 different levels of knowledge of the complexities of managing an agricultural operation. Whether the farmer is retired from a previous job was examined as an indicator of his or her time availability to the farm. tests showed that the proportion of operators that are first-generation farmers and the proportion with formal business, agriculture or other educational backgrounds are statistically similar among farms regardless of their number of visitors. As table 3 shows, the proportion of first-generation farmers running agritourism operations was similar in all three segments. Although a larger proportion of farms had operators with formal education in both agriculture and businesses as compared to the other segments, tests showed that those differences were not statistically significant. These results suggest that agritourism may be an option for both individuals rooted in agricultural production and those new to the industry, as well as for farmers with different educational backgrounds. Table 3. A comparison of operators characteristics among study segments. Generations in Farming (n=146) First generation farmers 48.6% 51.3% 45.5% Not different At least 2 nd generation farmers 51.4% 48.7% 54.5% Farmer Educational Background (n=144) Agriculture 20.0% 12.8% 14.3% Not different Business 17.1% 23.1% 17.1% Agriculture and business 18.6% 28.2% 40.0% Other educational background 44.3% 35.9% 28.6% Critical value p<.10. 1
5 Results showed a relatively high proportion of operators retired from another career in all three segments, suggesting that offering agritourism activities may be an option for farm operators throughout their lives, especially as a form of bridge employment or a post-career lifestyle concurrent with personal interests and aspirations (Figure 2). Noticeably, there was a lesser Figure 2. Retirement status of agritourism farm operators occurrence of retirees associated with 32.4% 67.6% farms, although such difference is only statistically significant 46.2% 53.8% (p=.057) compared to the 23.9% 76.1% farms. These results were expected because higher visitor numbers 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% require greater investment of time, (p=.057; n=144) Retired Not retired facilities and other resources the operator may not be able to commit while holding another job. Agritourism Characterization across Farms with Different Numbers of Visitors This study also examined the types of visitors farms received and their number of years offering agritourism activities, as those attributes may play a role in the number of visitors to the farm (Table 4). Overall, farms with the lowest numbers of visitors had a significantly more limited scope of visitors in most of the categories examined, including couples without children, seniors and community groups or organizations. These results may be suggesting that farms have an overall smaller scale of agritourism development or that they are more specialized in the types of visitors they receive. On average, farms received 3.6 types of visitors, which is statistically significantly less than (average of 4.4 visitor types) and (average of 5.0 visitor types) farms (p<.001).
6 1 2 a b c Table 4. A comparison of the types of visitors across study segments. Types of Farm Visitors (n=152) Families with young children 67.5% 80.0% 85.7% Different a Couples without children 64.9% 82.5% 82.9% Different b Seniors 61.0% 87.5% 91.4% Different b Families with older children 61.0% 75.0% 71.4% Not different Organization groups 46.8% 67.5% 88.6% Different b School groups 42.9% 40.0% 68.8% Different c Number of Visitors Types (n=152) 2 Average number of visitor types Different b Critical value p<.10. At least one pair of statistically significant differences were found. This includes 7 types of visitors examined in this study, including other visitors. Significant differences only exist between and farms. visitation farms are statistically different from the other two farm segments. farms are significantly different from the other two types of farms. The longevity of the agritourism operation varied among the three farm segments, with the farms being significantly different from the other two types of farms (p=.002) as shown in figure 3. Those farms were likely to have a greater number of years receiving recreational visitors, suggesting that farm visitation builds momentum over time. These results may also suggest the use of sustainable management practices where operators pace business growth to fit both their markets and resources. Figure 3. Number of years receiving visitors to the farm 68.6% 20.0% 11.4% 42.5% 17.5% 25.0% 10.0% 5.0% 27.2% 18.2% 23.4% 23.4% 7.8% (p=.002; n=152) 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% 10 years or more 6-9 years 3-5 years 1-2 years Less than 1 year
7 Recreational Activities Offered by Farms with Different Numbers of Visitors Recreational activities are an important component of the visitor experience at an agritourism operation. Of the 20 types of recreational activities examined in this study, the most frequently offered (on at least one-fourth of responding farms) were: (1) tours, including those intended for both education and leisure; (2) opportunities for self-harvest or U-pick fruits and vegetables; (3) festivals, events and shows; (4) observation or participation in agricultural processes; (5) classes, seminars and workshops; (6) activities including animal interaction, such as petting zoos; and (7) field or hay rides. Holiday related activities, wineries and pumpkin patches were offered on about twenty percent of participating agritourism farms. The wide spectrum and frequent occurrence of these activities suggests strong ties to agricultural production and tradition in on-farm offerings. Those offerings may be related to either existing farm production, such as including self-harvest as one aspect of an orchard operation, or to the personal interests of the farm operator (e.g., animal husbandry). tests revealed significant differences among farms with different numbers of visitors in terms of the following types of recreational activities: U-pick or U-harvest (p=.004); festivals, events and shows (p<.001); field or hay rides (p=.006); holiday events (p=.059); wineries (p=.001); and pumpkin patches (p<.001) as table 5 shows. Overall, farms are likely to offer a greater variety of recreational activities (average of 5.3 activities), as compared to (average of 3.8 activities) and (average of 3.2 activities) farms. These results are not surprising as those farms receiving higher numbers of visitors need to provide a greater variety to facilitate the rotation of visitors among activities, indirectly encouraging higher satisfaction levels. From the list of activities significantly different across study segments, it is worth noting that programming festivals, events and shows seems to draw larger numbers of farm visitors. These
8 results need to be taken into consideration by those farmers willing to expand their agritourism operations in terms of visitor numbers. It is also interesting to note that there are not significant differences across farms with different numbers of visitors in terms of some lowerinvestment activities, such as those that can easily parallel the daily farm production activities, including tours, petting zoos and the observation of agricultural processes. Table 5. Number and types of recreational activities offered by farms with different numbers of visitors. Agritourism Activities Offered on the Farm (n=152) Total Number of Activities Offered 2 Average number of activities Different a Activities ly Different U-pick or U-harvest 23.4% 47.5% 51.4% Different b Field or hay rides 19.5% 25.0% 48.6% Different a Festivals, events and shows 15.6% 32.5% 57.1% Different c Holiday events 11.7% 25.0% 28.6% Different d Pumpkin patch 7.8% 17.5% 40.0% Different a Winery 5.2% 37.5% 22.9% Different b Activities Not ly Different Tours (educational or leisure) 62.3% 55.0% 77.1% Not different Participation of agricultural processes 36.4% 27.5% 45.7% Not different Classes, seminars or workshops 29.2% 27.5% 31.4% Not different Petting zoos or animal displays 26.0% 32.5% 40.0% Not different 1 Critical value p<.10. At least one pair of statistically significant differences were found. 2 This includes 18 of the 20 agritourism activities considered during this study, excluding wineries and festivals. a farms are significantly different from the other two types of farms. b visitation farms are statistically different from the other two farm segments. c differences were found across all three farm segments. d Significant differences only exist between and farms.
9 On-Farm Hospitality Offerings across Farms with Different Numbers of Visitors The study also examined 16 hospitality services, including lodging and accommodations (e.g., bed & breakfast), food and beverages (e.g., food stands), and event hosting (e.g., programming weddings) offered on the farm. Of those services, the most widely available were: (1) tasting rooms for farm products; (2) cookouts, barbecues and picnics; (3) hosting weddings or private parties; (4) food stands; and (5) catering or customized meals. analysis revealed significant differences across segments in the offering of all those hospitality activities (p<0.05), as table 6 displays. These results show that agritourism farms with a higher number of visitors provide a greater variety of hospitality services. A smaller proportion of farms have tasting rooms, program wedding and private parties or cater customized meals as compared to those with higher numbers of visitors. These results are not surprising as those services often require greater investments and specialized personnel that smaller operations may not be able to afford. Table 6. 1 a b Hospitality services offered by farms with different numbers of visitors. Hospitality Services (n=152) Weddings or private parties 22.1% 50.0% 45.7% Different a Cookouts, barbecues, picnics 15.6% 20.0% 42.9% Different b Food stand 14.3% 12.5% 48.6% Different b Tasting rooms 11.7% 37.5% 37.1% Different a Catering or customized meals 5.2% 20.0% 34.3% Different a Critical value p<.01. At least one pair of statistically significant differences were found. visitation farms are statistically different from the other two farm segments. farms are significantly different from the other two types of farms. Farm Economic Situation across Study Segments Agritourism is generally suggested to provide economic benefits to the farm. Hence, this study examined whether farms with different numbers of visitors vary in terms of their annual gross
10 sales, their overall economic situation and the proportion of their sales derived from agritourism activities. Results show that farms with a greater number of visitors generally had greater gross farm sales (p<.001) as table 7 shows. Furthermore, results suggest that operators of farms receiving more than 3,000 visitors perceived their farm economic situation as significantly higher in terms of profits than operators in the lower segments (p=.018). Table 7. A comparison of the farm economic indicators across study segments. 1 a b Gross Farm Sales in 2008 (n=143) Less than $49, % 65.7% 6.3% Different a $50,000 to $499, % 31.4% 59.3% $500,000 or more 11.8% 2.9% 34.4% Farm Economic Situation (n=147) Profitable business 18.4% 15.8% 33.3% Different b Generates some profit 25.0% 42.1% 48.5% Breaking even 21.1% 15.8% 6.1% Operating at a loss 35.5% 26.3% 12.1% Critical value p<.05. At least one pair of statistically significant differences were found. differences were found across all three farm segments. farms are significantly different from the other two types of farms. Consistently, the proportion of farm sales derived from recreational activities was significantly different across all three study segments (p<.001) as figure 4 shows. Operators of farms reported that over one-third (37.3%) of their gross sales were recreation-related as compared to 27.2% of farms and 11.0% of farms. Figure 4. Recreation-related percentage of farm sales 40.0% 20.0% 0.0% 37.3% 27.2% 11.0% (p<.001; n=143)
11 Marketing Methods Used to Attract Farm Visitors across Study Segments The use of marketing tools, including advertising methods and networking, has been suggested to contribute to the ability of the agritourism operation to attract higher numbers of visitors. Hence, this study examined both marketing indicators across Missouri agritourism farms receiving different numbers of visitors. Impressively, all study segments indicated a high use of marketing methods (Table 8). Notably, the internet (e.g., Web page, blogs) was used by the majority of respondents and showed no significant differences among (84.9%), (90.0%) and (94.3%) farms. Personal selling strategies were also highly used by all three study segments. Table 8. The use of marketing among farms with different numbers of visitors. Types of Marketing Methods (n=148) Web page or blogs 84.9% 90.0% 94.3% Not different Printed materials 58.9% 70.0% 91.4% Different a Personal selling 54.8% 62.5% 71.4% Not different Ads in media 43.8% 75.0% 85.7% Different b Specialized directories 37.0% 50.0% 80.0% Different a Total Number of Marketing Methods Employed (n=148) Average number of methods (3.8) (4.8) (6.1) Different a Involvement with Farm Business-related Associations (n=137) Number of memberships Different a 1 Critical value p<.10. a differences were found across all three farm segments. b farms are statistically different from the other two farm segments. Without indicating a causal relationship, results showed that the greater the number of visitors the farm received, the more marketing techniques they used. Significant differences were found across all study segments with farms using on average 6.1 methods,
12 farms using 4.8 and farms using 3.8 methods (p<.001). However, it is necessary to recognize that the use of some of those methods may be associated with their costs. For example, a smaller proportion (43.8%) of farms used paid advertisements in mass media, which often requires a large financial investment, as compared to (75.0%) and (85.7%) farms. Significant differences were also found in networking activities among all study segments, as those receiving a greater number of visitors were also more likely to be involved in business and agricultural groups and associations. However, this may also be linked to costs associated with becoming and remaining an active member of those organizations much like the use of paid advertisements in mass media. Management Indicators of MO Agritourism Operations On average, the three types of agritourism farms reported receiving visitors slightly more than half of the year (7.4 months), without statistically significant variations among the three segments (Table 9). Results showed that the proportion of farms charging their recreational visitors some type of fee is significantly related to the number of visitors they receive. A smaller proportion of farms (45.3%) charged their visitors a fee as compared to farms (69.2%) and farms (85.7%). These results are important considering that previous findings suggested that farms with greater numbers of visitors are more likely to have greater gross sales and larger proportions of those sales derived from agritourism. Results showed that farms receiving at least 3,000 visitors per year have a significantly higher number of total farm employees and significantly more employees exclusively dedicated to agritourism than the other farm segments (p<.001). Interestingly, no statistical differences were found for either type of employees between and farms.
13 Table 9. A comparison of management attributes among farms with different numbers of visitors. Farm Availability to Visitors (n=149) Number of months open Not different Charging for Farm Activities (n=149) Fees charged at farm 45.3% 69.2% 85.7% Different a Fees not charged 54.7% 30.8% 14.3% Number of Farm Employees (n=131) Total farm employees Different b Employees in agritourism Different b Critical value p<.10. differences were found across all three farm segments. farms were significantly different from the other two types of farms. 1 a b This study also examined the availability of written business and marketing plans as they have been deemed critical for the healthy development, growth and sustainability of entrepreneurial endeavors. Overall, the majority of farms in each category, (57.6%), (61.5%) and (61.4%), reported having neither business nor marketing plans in writing, with no statistical differences among study segments (Figure 5). Those results suggest that greater emphasis is needed on the development of those plans. Figure 5. Written plans for the farm business 17.3% 5.1% 2.6% 5.1% 17.3% 17.3% 2.6% 5.1% 2.6% 9.1% 3.0% 9.1% 9.1% 3.0% 3.0% 1.3% 1.3% 1.3% 61.4% 20.0% 61.4% 20.0% 61.4% 20.0% 61.5% 30.8% 61.5% 30.8% 61.5% 30.8% 57.6% 30.3% 57.6% 30.3% 57.6% 30.3% Business plan Business and marketing plans Marketing plan No written plans (n=147) Figure 5. Availability of written business and marketing plans across study segments.
14 SUMMARY As the second report derived from the Missouri Agritourism Survey, this study explored the differences concerning the operator, farmland, agritourism offerings, economic performance, marketing strategies and management indicators among Missouri agritourism farms receiving different numbers of visitors per year. This study compared three types of agritourism operations: farms receiving less than 500 visitors, farms with 500-2,999 visitors; and farms receiving 3,000 or more visitors per year. In terms of farmland and operator attributes, responding operations are relatively similar. No statistically significant differences were found among the three segments on total farm acreage, the number of acres in production or the farm s distance from an urban area. The three types of farms were also similar in terms of the educational background and family history in farming of their operators. These results suggest that farmland and operator attributes should be considered neither an impediment nor advantage for agritourism development. However, farms have a statistically smaller proportion of operators retired from a previous job or profession, suggesting that greater number of visitors needs more time investment of the operator devoted to the agritourism offerings. Greater statistical variations were found among the segments in farm offerings and services. Significant differences appeared in terms of the types of visitors (e.g., school groups, seniors) and the number of activities offered, likely moving in parallel with the farm level of involvement in agritourism, in terms of number of visitors. Furthermore, significant differences were found in farms in terms of longevity in the business, suggesting that visitor momentum builds over time and as activities grow from low-investment activities (e.g., u-pick produce; tours) to those with greater resource requirements (e.g., tasting rooms, special event
15 programming). Hospitality services showed similar results, as farms with greater numbers of visitors were generally providing more services. Importantly, this study showed significant differences in several farm economic indicators. Without implying causality, this study found that farms with greater visitor numbers generally have higher gross sales and a greater proportion of sales derived from recreation-related activities. In part, this may be associated with a significantly larger proportion of farms with higher numbers of visitors charging at least one fee for the recreational activities offered. Results also show that farm operators perceived themselves as being significantly more profitable than and operators. differences across segments were also found in several marketing and management attributes. While some marketing methods (e.g., Web pages and blogs, personal selling) were widely used, techniques with higher costs (e.g., advertising in mass media) and memberships in business organizations were used significantly more by farms with higher numbers of visitors. differences were not found among the three levels in terms of the number of months they received visitors for recreational purposes. Results showed that farms had significantly more employees working on the farm and working exclusively in agritourism activities as compared to the other two study segments. A minority of the study participants had written business and marketing plans regardless of number of visitors they received and despite both documents being considered instrumental for entrepreneurial development.
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