An Office of Agritourism would be created at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to encourage and promote agritourism activities and related businesses under bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA).
The Accelerating the Growth of Rural Innovation and Tourism Opportunities to Uphold Rural Industries and Sustainable Marketplaces (AGRITOURISM) Act, H.R. 6408, which Rep. Newhouse cosponsored on Jan. 13 with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), would promote agritourism activities and agritourism businesses, including educational experiences, outdoor recreation, entertainment and special events, direct sales, and accommodations, among others, according to the text of the bill.
Agritourism continues to expand across the nation, according to the most recent Census of Agriculture, which reports that agritourism-related income increased from $202 million in 2002 to $949 million in 2017.
“From our world-class wineries and breweries to local orchards, dairies, and farmers markets, agritourism is a vital part of central Washington’s economy,” said Rep. Newhouse. “I am proud to introduce the Agritourism Act to ensure that agritourism businesses have an advocate within USDA which will in turn help preserve our important agriculture traditions and honor our way of life.”
An Office of Agritourism within USDA would provide an advocate for agritourism businesses within the federal government, promote the development of agritourism-related activities, and ensure federal resources, according to a statement released by Rep. Newhouse’s office.
“A dedicated Office of Agritourism would help… small farms get the support they need to start and sustain their agritourism businesses, like loans and grants, access to broadband connectivity programs, promotion of agritourism activities, and best practices,” added Rep. Wexton.
The Washington Wine Institute, the L’Ecole No. 41 Winery, and the NAFDMA-International Agritourism Association support the bill.