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Agritourism allows visitors to experience Oregon agriculture while providing additional income for farmers. The remarkable landscape in Oregon coupled with the unspoiled expanse of our preserved working lands create a backdrop for people to connect with the products, practices, and places that produce our food, commodities, and a way of life that is uniquely Oregon.
Individuals interested in starting or expanding an agritourism business need to consult with their county planning department to determine if permits are required. The types of agritourism activities allowed in exclusive farm use zones are established by the state legislature in statute. Counties adopt ordinances in compliance with the state criteria and may add local requirements.
Agritourism has been defined by Travel Oregon as "any activity that generates supplemental income for working farms and ranches by connecting their resources and products with visitors." Travel Oregon produced the Oregon Agritourism Handbook to help property owners interested in pursuing agritourism activities get preliminary ideas about agritourism business ideas.
Exclusive Farm Use zones are established to preserve and maintain land for farm use. Farm use includes raising, harvesting, and selling crops and feeding, breeding, management, and sale of livestock. Agritourism activities that qualify as "farm use"” include the sale of produce and livestock products raised on the farm.
Examples of agritourism activities that may be considered farm use include:
Farm stands are structures designed and used for the sale of farm crops or livestock grown on the farm operation or other farm operations in Oregon. Farm stands may also hold some outdoor events and sell incidental items that are not farm products, such as souvenirs.
The Oregon legislature amended state statutes in response to agritourism interest and industry growth around the state. The statutes now allow up to 18 agritourism events per year on a property in Exclusive Farm Use zones. Counties have the ability to choose whether they want to allow agritourism events in their jurisdictions.
The statute is not specific about the types of events and activities that might be allowed, so counties may interpret these uses differently. In general, this use could include activities related to:
Income from agritourism can help support existing farm operations. However, unrestricted agritourism events can create conflicts with neighboring farm operations. Examples of possible conflicts include traffic, litter, and demands for agricultural spray practice changes.
Impacts from agritourism events are limited by restrictions on the size and duration of each event. Additional standards for noise, traffic, and sanitation may also apply. Only temporary structures are allowed. Agritourism and other commercial events or activities must be related to and supportive of agriculture and incidental and subordinate to farm use on the property.
There are a variety of permitting options for agritourism events, including:
Except for expedited permits, agritourism events require findings that the event will not significantly change or increase the cost of farm or forest practices on surrounding lands.
Wineries and cider businesses are allowed in Exclusive Farm Use zones if the winery has at least 15 acres of vineyards or the cider business has at least 15 acres of apples or pear orchard. In general, wineries and cider businesses have a wider array of allowable activities than other agritourism uses.
Wineries and cider businesses are allowed to produce and sell wine or cider. Sales can occur at the winery or cider business or by phone or the internet. Wine or cider related activities such as tastings, tours, and open houses are allowed at the winery or cider business.
The following additional activities may also occur at wineries and cider businesses:
Guest ranches provide lodging and passive recreation activities on working livestock operations. This agritourism option can be approved in counties east of Cascades. The ranch must be at least 160 acres.
A guest ranch is not allowed on:
Guest lodges must provide four to ten lodging units. The number of lodging units may be increased depending on the size of the ranch.
Outdoor gatherings that are not related to agriculture can be permitted in an Exclusive Farm Use zone. Such gatherings are limited to one event every three months.
"Outdoor mass gatherings" have more than 3,000 attendees and last more than 120 hours unless a county ordinance states different limits. These events require approval at a public hearing. Smaller gatherings can be approved without a public hearing but may need to comply with health and safety requirements.
Hilary FooteFarm/Forest Specialist
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