selected because of their substantial interest in agritourism and geographic variability. The interview subjects in a state were selected to maximize the range of variation (Lindlof & Taylor, 2011) within the study focus of farms or ranches classified as small or medium by USDA standards. A variety of farm products as well as on-farm experiences were represented in the sample, as was race, gender and experience working in agritourism. They analyzed those data to identify themes that were then used to develop an online survey instrument. The findings from the qualitative analysis of the interviews were combined with questions drawn from previously developed agritourism surveys used in published research (e.g. Schilling et al., 2012). The online survey was programmed in Qualtrics and sent to agritourism operators across the United States between November 2019 and February 2020. The project team used national and local networks and databases to distribute the survey to agricultural producers. The survey's first question served as a screening question and limited responses to farm, ranches, vineyards, aquaculture, and other agricultural production facilities that are open to visitors. Thus, off-farm experiences and sales (e.g., farmers markets) were not included. The timing was such that survey responses were completed prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing baseline data on the state of agritourism before the pandemic.
The research team received 1,834 usable responses to the online survey, with at least one respondent from each of the 50 states. The average age of respondents was 55 years old and over half of the respondents identified as female. Most respondents (7 out of 10) had a college degree or higher, and a little more than half had more than ten years of agritourism experience. About 50 percent of responses came from operators with less than 100 acres of land. The median farm size of respondents was 60 acres. Most farms operated 50 miles or more from a city of at least 50,000 people. Breaking down the responses by region, 29 percent came from the South, 26 percent from the West, 24 percent from the Northeast, and 21 percent from the Midwest. All regions reported offering crops, livestock, and value-added products, to varying degrees. Agritourism operations in the Northeast had the most crops (67 percent of respondents), the Southern operations had the most livestock (48 percent of respondents), and the Northeast and West led with the most value-added product offerings, at 56 and 49 percent of respondents respectively (Figure 1).
2021 NET Conference Proceedings
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