Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Agritourism Risks, Liabilities To Be Detailed At Workshop


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Farmers wanting to get into the agritourism industry can better understand the risks and potential liability they will face by attending a workshop being held next month in conjunction with the Indiana Horticultural Congress and Trade Show.

The workshop will be on Jan. 18 at the Wyndham Hotel, 2544 Executive Drive, in Indianapolis near the old airport terminal.

Participants will learn about risks and liability associated with such agritourism activities and operations such as hayrides, workshops, seasonal festivals, petting zoos, bed-and-breakfast inns and wineries.

"The list of entertaining and educational opportunities right here in Indiana seems almost limitless," said Roy Ballard, a Purdue Extension agriculture and natural resources educator in Hancock County and a workshop organizer. "But an issue that farmers must consider before entering into an agritourism venture or expanding an existing operation is how to manage risk and limit liability when inviting the public onto a working farm."

One session will feature a panel of producers who will discuss how they manage risk as part of their business planning. They are Amy Kelsay of Kelsay Farms, Whiteland; Greg Hochstedler of Boondocks Farm, Knightstown; and Tom Dull of Dull's Tree Farm, Thorntown.

There also will be a roundtable discussion for those who have an agritourism venue or are considering the possibility and want to share experiences, opportunities and trends in the industry.

Featured speakers and titles of their presentations include:

* Phil Lehmkuhler, Indiana state director of USDA Rural Development, "The State of Rural Indiana and the Role of Agritourism in its Future."

* Shannon Mirus, staff attorney for the National Agricultural Law Center, University of Arkansas, "Anticipating and Managing Risk and Liability in Your Agritourism Venture" and "What is Limited Liability for Agritourism and How Are Other States Employing It?"

* Debbie Trocha, director of the Indiana Cooperative Development Center, "An Indiana Direct-to-Consumer Association: How Can it Benefit Your Operation?"

Those wanting to attend the workshop should register online ( for the Indiana Horticultural Congress and Trade Show, which will be Jan. 18-20. Cost is $65 for one day of admission, with children under 16 admitted for free. Individuals without Web access can register by contacting Tammy Goodale at 765-494-1296.

Those attending all three days of the horticulture congress can pay an $85 fee, allowing them to attend all of the sessions and the trade show.

The full agenda of the agritourism session is available by contacting Ballard at 317-462-1113,

The Agritourism Workshop, now in its seventh year, is sponsored by Purdue Extension, Indiana Office of Tourism Development, Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Indiana Cooperative Development Center, and U.S. Department of Agriculture's North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.

More information about the Indiana Horticultural Congress is available at For questions and additional information, contact Goodale at 765-494-1296,

Grant Advising for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers

Source: MISA

Need help with your NCR-SARE grant proposal?

If you are a farmer who is a member of a historically socially disadvantaged group*, you are invited to use a grants advising service of the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute.

MFAI’s GrantAdvisor can help you apply to grant and cost-share programs of your state or the federal government that could help you improve your farming business. These can be programs of any federal or state agency, not just the USDA. We will assist individual producers or associations of farmers who have never received a federal grant or cost-share before. We will also work with young nonprofits that are working directly with socially disadvantaged farmers to start or improve food-related businesses. We will also assist those working with disadvantaged youth involved in food or fiber production.

The Grants Advisor helps you decide whether a grant would be the best way to achieve your goals. If so, she will help you choose a grant program that fits your goals and help you outline a plan of work for you to follow to meet the application deadline and all proposal or application requirements. If not, she will suggest other resources you may choose to approach. The Advisor will help you identify local partners (agency staff, nonprofit organizations, or local volunteers with experience in grants and project management) to strengthen your project, to help you complete the proposal, and, if funding is awarded, to manage the project. The Advisor can assist you in preparing the proposal to ensure timely submission with necessary forms, attachments, and letters of support.

Most grant program deadlines are during the winter months, so please act now. Even for deadlines next fall or winter, it is best to start working now with the Grants Advisor. You can get your plan of work organized so that the next deadline does not sneak up on you. MFAI funds for this service are limited, so the sooner you contact the Grants Advisor, the greater the chance that you can use this service to advance your project or those you know who would qualify.

For more information please contact the Grants Advisor, Deirdre Birmingham, at (608) 219-4279 or .

This project is funded by Farm Aid.

* For purposes of this project, MFAI uses the USDA Risk Management Agency’s definition: “A socially disadvantaged (SDA) farmer, rancher, or agricultural producer is one of a group whose members have been subjected to racial, ethnic, or gender prejudice because of his or her identity as a member of the group without regard to his or her individual qualities. SDA groups are women, African Americans, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.”

While MFAI will consider the application of other producers, the funders of this project set a priority on serving socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.