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Hay Rides, Dude Ranches and Corn Mazes

Although Arkansas has many agritourism operations – Christmas tree farms, “you-pick” vegetable and berry farms, and at least one corn maze – the state does not have a formal program to support agritourism as a viable industry. Harrison Pittman, assistant research professor and staff attorney for the National Agricultural Law Center at the School of Law, examined such programs in other states and determined that Arkansas possesses the important elements to develop the growing industry within its borders.

“Arkansas has all the human, land, government and academic resources needed to create a viable, statewide agritourism industry,” said Pittman. “If there are 100 operations now – and we have no idea how many there are – maybe we could have 1,000, and the ones already established could do better if there were some kind of program to support and promote agritourism.”

Pittman found that agritourism exists in every state. Many states have established formal efforts to promote or enhance it, although the nature and scope of these efforts vary. Some states provide a Web site where producers can register their operations so visitors can learn about various agritourism enterprises. Other states have established governmental departments and enacted legislation that aggressively promotes agritourism. Five states – Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Kansas and Vermont – recognize agritourism as its own industry that can provide economic benefits to producers, communities and the entire state.

Pittman said Arkansas has the human and physical resources to pursue a similar effort because, like those states that have undertaken comprehensive efforts to support and promote agritourism, agriculture is central to the state’s economy.

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