Cattle ranchers and agritourism in Oregon, USA: Motivations, challenges and opportunities from the landowner's perspective
Cattle ranches are cultural icons in many countries. Still, high costs to maintain ranches may force some ranchers to sell their operation. One income alternative is to diversify into agritourism. Empirical research on ranch agritourism is scarce. This study provides an overview of, and assesses the motivations for, and challenges to diversifying into agritourism from the ranchers’ perspective. A survey of 400 Oregon ranchers in 2003 found that 21% of 177 respondents promoted agritourism and that it contributed 8% to their annual household income compared to an 84% contribution from livestock production. Working on the ranch and hunting / fishing were the most popular agritourism activities. Main motivations to diversify were to utilize ranch resources, capture additional income, and offset fluctuations in income. Key barriers were insurance and liability, lack of time, regulations, and lack of financial assistance and resources. Agritourism was a success for 79% of those involved; 73% of guests were repeat customers and 38% learned about the operation from friends and family. Most guests (82%) were from Oregon. Findings suggest that agritourism can be compatible with ranching and can help ranches to remain viable. Despite low adoption numbers at the time of this study, agritourism initiatives are likely to increase.
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