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Agritainment – What’s the Issue?

Post written by Hannah Fulk, GDP Agriculture Underwriter and Kristin Taylor, Line of Business Manager – Farm and Agribusiness

Agritainment_2119682Agritainment operations may generate diversified farming income, but the related hazards hold significant potential for loss.

What is agritainment? 

In today’s agricultural scene, farmers have become creative in finding new ways to earn income in addition to the traditional farming practices of growing crops or raising livestock. One of those supplemental avenues is called agritainment, which is also known as agritourism. Agritainment is “simply providing an opportunity for entertainment in an agricultural setting, and then creating the opportunity to entice visitors to your farm to provide education about agriculture and increase your overall profits,” according to Penn State Extension.

Examples of agritainment include petting zoos, hay rides, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, horse-drawn carriage rides, pony rides and more. As the United States becomes more urban, with fewer members of our society growing up on a farm, curiosity about farms and farming has increased the popularity of agritainment venues. During the past few decades, agritainment has become a way to help educate those who are interested in the learning more about where food comes from, how it’s grown, raised or produced, and the equipment used on a farm.

What are the hazards of agritainment and how can you control them?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that America’s 10 Deadliest Jobs, as reported by Forbes Magazine, listed farming as No. 9. The ranking likely considers the uncertainty that accompanies working with large animals as well as the significant power underneath the hood of one of today’s tractors. Farming presents danger, even to those who have specialized training to support their occupation. Therefore, introducing individuals who have little to no experience with farming into an agricultural environment will present special hazards. It will not be a matter of if an accident will happen, but a matter of when and its severity.

Farmers need to be aware of environmental hazards that exist, such as E. coli, animal bites, trips and falls, collisions and dangers specific to farm machinery and equipment, to help keep patrons of their agritainment attractions safe at all times. Here are some basic controls you can put into place when operating an agritainment or agritourism operation to help preserve the business as well as your farm:

  • Monitor attendance and only allow a specific number of entrants into the entertainment venue at one time.
  • Prevent patrons from touching animals (when not appropriate), farm equipment and machinery.
  • Keep the area properly maintained and clean from debris.
  • Routinely inspect all equipment used for events.
  • Post signs, such as “Restricted Area,” “No Smoking” or “Slippery When Wet” in conspicuous places.
  • Educate guests of possible dangers and explain the potential harm if rules are not followed.
  • Keep enough staff on duty to monitor visitors.
  • Create and distribute an accident plan so everyone understands what to do in a crisis situation.

What’s next?

It is imperative farmers understand how to make their agritainment venue as safe as possible. Not only should the safety of customers be of utmost importance, you also need to protect yourself from adverse liability situations.

We encourage individuals with a diversified agricultural business that include agritainment exposures to engage in conversation with their independent insurance agent. Independent agents will advise their customers on the proper coverages necessary to deliver specific protection for all farming and diversified exposures that may exist. To contact an independent insurance agent in your area, please click here.

Do you have experience working at an agritainment venue? If so, please share your perspective in the Comments box below.

Sources:
http://extension.psu.edu/business/ag-alternatives/farm-management/agritainment
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/08/22/americas-10-deadliest-jobs-2/
http://www.agmrc.org/media/cms/Agritourism_Albers_C684C69862542.pdf

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