South Dakota AgriTourism
Agriculture and Tourism are South Dakota’s top two industries and both are very important to the Wall area. Because of this, I was excited to attend a South Dakota AgriTourism Workshop February 20-21. The Workshop was hosted by the South Dakota Department of Tourism and the SDSU Extension. AgriTourism combines Agriculture and Tourism through activities that are carried out on a farm, ranch or agribusiness operation to welcome members of the general public to view or participate in agricultural activities for recreational, entertainment, or educational purposes.
Thursday at the workshop was a full day of gathering and learning. Some of the topics discussed were:
- AGRITOURISM SPOTLIGHTs: Wall-Badlands Area Chamber of Commerce Member Amy Kruse of Circle View Guest Ranch shared the story of just how Circle View Guest Ranch was started 20 years ago along with all the lessons they have learned along the way. Julie Ross from Good Roots Farm and Garden near Brookings shared how they offer a large barn and commercial kitchen for weddings and community events. Good Roots Farm and Garden also offers organic produce and walking/biking trails.
- Resources for Business Planning: Peggy Schlechter from SDSU Extension provided business recourses such as a startup business plan and resources for developing an AgriTourism business.
- Marketing Basics: Kirk Hulstein, Jacey Ellsworth, and Calvin Bloemendaal gave a presentation about the best marketing practices, creating a marketing strategy, creating your brand, designing and managing your website, being involved with your local Chamber, and more!
- Social Media and Photography: Steph Palmer and Chad Coppess from the SD Department of Tourism shared the best practices for posting content on social media, including how to take pictures that will catch the eye of the viewer and how to use them in your marketing strategy.
- Liability: Peggy Schlechter from the SDSU Extension discussed the liability that is associated with having an AgriTourism business, as well as what these businesses can do to protect themselves.
- Risk Management/Farm Safety: John Keimig from the SDSU Extension explained the steps AgriTourism businesses can take to identify and prevent risks and how to respond/be prepared for accidents. Keeping good records of updates, safety and emergency response plans, employee trainings and regular safety inspections can help protect an AgriTourism business from a lawsuit if an injury should occur.
- Taxes and Licensing: Betty Morford and Steve Wilson of the SD Department of Revenue explained what types of AgriTourism activities are subject to state and local taxes.
- Pricing: Pat Garrity of the SD Specialty Producers encouraged attendees not to be worried about charging people for AgriTourism activities. AgriTourism businesses should evaluate their attraction, conduct a marketing study, evaluate potential income and implement a pricing strategy.
- Financing: Cheri Rath of the SD Value Added Agriculture Development Center discussed the finances of an AgriTourism business. Business owners must review the startup costs, potential income and expenses and what resources are available to fund AgriTourism businesses.
- Advocating for Agriculture: Jodie Anderson from the SD Cattlemen’s Association and Ag United for SD spoke about why Agriculture is important for SD as well as what the Economic Impact from Agriculture is for SD. The days of not talking about how/why we do what we do are behind us; it’s time to share the truth and educate the public about agriculture.
- Hospitality: Natasha Bothun from the SD Department of Tourism shared why good service is important, good customer service is far beyond being nice, how to be prepared to answer visitors questions, how to use the correct body language and be prepared to respond when a conflict with a customer arises.
On Friday, Seminar attendees hopped on a bus and toured 3 AgriTourism operations in the Pierre area.
AgriTourism is already present in our community through businesses such as Circle View Guest Ranch, Shearer’s Western Dakota Ranch, Singing Horse Trading Post B&B and the various guided hunting opportunities in our area. If anyone is interested in starting an AgriTourism business or activity please feel free to contact me for more information about AgriTourism in South Dakota.