Another consideration is the exposure you, your farm and family are subjected to on a regular basis. According to a university study, one of the negative aspects of farm tourism is being on display. Are you prepared to interact with the public, to accept them walking around your property. There are difficult customers to deal with and refuse cans that will need to be emptied. Controlled parking is another issue that requires thought before getting started.

"Farming operations are not always one of the safest places to be, especially if they (visitors) are not aware of some of the risks associated with farming," says Rusty Rumley at the University of Arkansas' National Agriculture Law Center.

He says property owners need to consider three levels of risk when allowing visitors access to the farm. In doing so, the highest level of liability comes with the invitation of the public for the purpose of conducting business.

"This is where the farmer has the highest duty for public safety. Typically it is because a person is paying to be there," he adds, and this is where the greatest level of liability begins. "You need to contain participants to a small area. Don't give them access to sensitive areas like chemical storage sheds and don't let them play on farm equipment no matter how much they want to."

Others areas that could prove risky include old farm equipment that tends to attract children and adults. But such equipment or implements could be rusty or sharp and could represent an accident waiting to happen.

"You can't just post a sign warning of the risks; you must be active in making certain that risks are eliminated or at least minimized, otherwise serious liability problems could arise," he warned.

Farmers or ranchers who are considering recreational or agritourism opportunities should talk with their local AgriLife extension representative. More information can be found online.


Also of interest:

Farmers feed us
Fall can’t come too quickly

Never say too late for rain