|Abstract or Summary
- Agritourism is one way to sustainably conserve open space. Its potential to supplement Oregon ranchers’ income may also preserve ranching culture. Research on agritourism in Oregon and elsewhere, however, is scarce. This study focused on the motivations of Oregon ranchers to diversify into agritourism, the congruence of conservation easements and agritourism, the feasibility of using sustainability indicators as tools to measure agritourism sustainability, and the future of agritourism in Oregon.
This study mimics the one conducted by Nickerson, Black, and McCool (2001), using a mailback survey. A total of 400 questionnaires were distributed to Oregon cattle ranch owners during the summer of 2002. Of those received, 177 were useable, for a response rate of 44%.
Agritourism is hardly pervasive in Oregon; only 21% of respondents indicated they engage in agritourism enterprises. Of those who do, working ranch and fee hunting/fishing are the main activities offered. Top reasons for cattle ranchers to operate an agritourism business are to fully utilize ranch resources, capture additional income, to offset fluctuations in ranch income, and to educate the consumer. Major barriers to agritourism are insurance and liability concerns,
lack of time, regulations, and lack of financial assistance and resources. Only 10% of Oregon ranchers and 19% of ranchers in agritourism had land protected under a conservation easement (both open and closed to the public).
Although none of the hypotheses were supported, significant relationships were found between cattle ranchers in agritourism and the number of years cattle ranchers have been in the ranching business and the presence of family members who work off-ranch part-time year round; and gross annual household income and the hiring of non-family members who work part-time year round in the agritourism business. The majority of respondents rely on livestock production as a source of income, but livestock production is responsible for only about half of ranchers’ gross annual household income. Off-ranch income is the second major source of income. Findings indicate that agritourism may provide a profitable source of income allowing more ranchers to work full-time on the ranch while maintaining their ranching livelihood.