Monday, January 28, 2013

Does Your Plan Include Gardening?

Spring is just around the corner and for those of you who plan to include gardening in your agritourism venture, the LSU AgCenter provides up to the date information 24/7.  Our horticulture experts can answer your questions in our parish offices or online.

For those interested in taking classes. Two courses are planned for the spring. The first course, Introduction to Arboriculture, will be held Feb. 18-22. It is an intensive review course that will help new and experienced tree care workers prepare for taking the Louisiana Arborist Exam and the International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist Exam, according to Hallie Dozier, LSU AgCenter forestry specialist.
The second  is offered in two intensive, hands-on, two-day parts, Dozier said. The first, Technical Tree Felling & Cutting and Climbing, will be held Feb. 25-26. The second part, Fall Protection and Work Positioning, will be held Feb. 27-28.
To learn more about these courses, click here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lt. Governor's Summit on Tourism

I just recently spoke at the Lt. Governor's Summit on Tourism in Lake Charles about the numerous opportunities in agritourism. Agritourism operators need to work directly with their local tourism officials. These professionals can help you gain access to a larger tourism market than our school systems. Visit with a professional today and suggest ways that you can work together to bring more tourists to your area to learn about agriculture.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces New Loan Program

January 15, 2013, Secretary Vilsack announced a new microloan program designed to provide  start-up costs associated with farming. Those who qualify could potentially use this capital to grow fruits and vegetables for local markets.

Dr.Kurt Guidry with the LSU AgCenter shares his thoughts about this new loan program:

The new microloan program is designed to help small and family operations, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers secure loans under $35,000. This new program is aimed at bolstering the progress of producers through their start-up years by providing needed resources and helping to increase equity so that farmers may eventually graduate to commercial credit and expand their operations. The microloan program will also provide a less burdensome, more simplified application process in comparison to traditional farm loans.

For beginning farmers and ranchers, for instance, the new microloan program offers a simplified loan application process. In addition, for those who want to grow niche crops to sell directly to ethnic markets and farmers markets, the microloan program offers a path to obtain financing. For past FSA Rural Youth Loan recipients, the microloan program provides a bridge to successfully transition to larger-scale operations. Producers can apply for a maximum of $35,000 to pay for initial start-up expenses, essential tools, irrigation, delivery vehicles, and annual expenses such as seed, fertilizer, utilities, land rents, marketing, and distribution expenses.

The final rule establishing the microloan program is expected to be published in the Jan. 17 issue of the Federal Register. Once that final rule is released, we will have a clearer picture as to the details of how the program will be implemented.

Contact your FSA office for more details.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Recreational Horseback Riding for Fun and Profit Workshop-January 18, 2013

Landowners who are interested in outdoor recreation, those who own horses, or those who would like to expand an existing outdoor enterprise should attend this half day workshop from 8 am to noon on Friday, January 18, 2013. The workshop will be hosted in the conference room at the Ike Hamilton Expo Center in West Monroe.

The workshop will provide current and prospective horse owners with information on supplemental income opportunities related to the equine industry. Equine professionals will discuss the following topics: revenue potential for equine businesses, general horse training, horse psychology, trail riding, selection and use of proper track, managing liability and use of social media to begin or enhance the growth of your business.

Registration for the workshop is $10 before January 11, 2013 or $15 on the day of the workshop.

For a registration form and more details click hereContact Dora Ann Hatch for questions.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013 Menu Trends Good for Agritourism

The National Restaurant Association's latest survey completed by an estimated 1,800 chefs who are members of the American Culinary Federation, suggest that the top three menu trends for 2013 are:

1-Serve locally raised meat and seafood
2-Serve locally grown vegetables
3-Provide heathly meals for children

This is a great opportunity for us as agritourism operators. Visit your local restaurants and let them know what you produce to meet their needs. Since it's impossible to visit every restaurant to share your home grown produce and meat,  make certain that you have an updated profile on MarketMaker.

For more, check our our website: or log onto our agritourism website:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Online Agritourism Trip Planning

Tourists cannot visit you if they don't know you exist. There are many online tools devoted to driving people to you, but all require that you register your information. Special thanks to my new friend Lani Duke, a former Vermont agritourism writer, for inspiring this post today.

Let's look at two tools today.

MarketMaker is a national website that provides free listings in agritourism. If you have not registered, take a few minutes today and register. MarketMaker allows you to link your website and social media sites to the entry.  Click here for more details.

AgriTourism World is another site to consider. To learn more about opportunities with ATW give them a call at 800-628-0993  Currently seven Louisiana agritourism businesses are listed.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Agritourism-Section 22-Ag Census

In completing your 2012 census it is very important to accurately report how your land is used. For this reason, it is important to understand the definition of “agritourism.” In Louisiana, we have chosen this definition, “Agritourism is a business operation on a working farm, ranch or other agricultural enterprise that offers educational and fun experiences for visitors while generating supplemental income for the owner.”
Using that definition, flip through the agricultural census to the agritourism section, section 22. Number four in section 22 asks for “agritourism” numbers. Number four, states: “Agritourism and recreational services, such as farm or winery tours, hay rides, hunting, fishing, etc.
The "etc" includes more operations than the few listed. Here is just a partical listing of other activities that you can include in this category: value-added products, on-farm produce sales, u-pick-em operations, garden/nursery tours, historical building tours, canoeing or paddling, camping, bird watching, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, orienteering, photography, nature walks, dog training, bed & breakfasts and skeet shooting.
Deadline for census completion is February 4, 2013.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Louisiana Agritourism Connection Newsletter Online Today

The January 2013 edition of the Louisiana Agritourism Connection is now available online. Topics covered in this newsletter include: Recreational Horseback Riding for Fun and Profit Workshop information, Coastal Ecotourism Workshop information, Ag Expo information and a list of webinars available through eXtension.
We hope this newsletter will keep you informed of current developments related to agritourism business developments in Louisiana.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Providing Safety for Tourists on the Farm

Tourists visiting farms are unlikely to understand the dangers on the farm. For this reason, the 2008 Louisiana limited liability agritourism law asks that people engaged in agritourism complete a "plan of operation" listing all the possible dangers in their operation and explaining how they will limit those dangers to their visitors.  The process is simple and easy. Simply click here for a copy of the form.  To read more about the law click here.