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Agritourism

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.

Types of Allowable Uses

Examples of agritourism activities that may be considered farm use include:

  • Direct sales and marketing
  • U-pick
  • U-cut
  • Christmas Tree Sales

Limitations and Requirements

  • Sales are limited to crops grown and harvested on-site

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.

Types of Allowable Uses

  • Direct sales of farm crops and livestock produced on the farm or other farms in Oregon, and retail incidental items.
  • Events that help promote the sale of crops or livestock, such as:
    • Small-scale gatherings like a birthday party or picnic
    • Corn mazes
    • School tours
    • Pumpkin patch events
    • Hay rides
    • Farm animal exhibits
    • Farm product food contests
    • Food preparation demonstrations
    • Outdoor farm-to-table dinners

Limitations

  • Sale of marijuana or marijuana products is not allowed.
  • Sale of incidental items and fees from promotional activities are limited to 25 percent of the total farm stand sales.
  • Indoor banquets, public gatherings, and public entertainment are not allowed.

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.

Types of Allowable Uses

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:

  • Education
  • Hospitality
  • Entertainment
  • Farm-related outdoor recreation

Limitations and requirements

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:

  • Expedited permit for one event with up to 100 attendees
  • Permit for one event with up to 500 attendees
  • Permit for up to six events per year
  • Conditional use permit with public hearing for up to 18 events per year

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.

Types of allowable 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:

  • Up to 18 agritourism or other commercial events per year. Events can include outdoor concerts and other celebratory events promoting wine sales.
  • Preparation and sale of limited food options
  • Sales of incidental items such as souvenirs
  • Bed and breakfast in a residence
  • Restaurant only at a large winery producing 150,000 gallons or more

Limitations and requirements

  • Income from agritourism events, food service, and sales of incidental items cannot exceed 25 percent of income from on-site wine or cider sales.
  • Restaurants are not permitted except at very large facilities

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.

Types of Allowable Uses

  • Lodging
  • Hunting
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback riding
  • Swimming
  • Food service for guests of the ranch.

Limitations and requirements

A guest ranch is not allowed on:

  • High-value farmland
  • A federally designated wilderness area or a wilderness study area;
  • A federally designated wildlife refuge;
  • A federally designated area of critical environmental concern; or
  • An area established by an Act of Congress for the protection of scenic or ecological resources.

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.

Types of Allowable Uses

  • Concerts
  • Festivals
  • Fairs
  • Carnivals

Limitations and Requirements

  • Limited to one event every three months
  • Outdoor mass gatherings must be compatible with existing land uses and require a public hearing.
  • Smaller gatherings must comply with sanitation, traffic control, and emergency services requirements.

Contact

Hilary Foote
Farm/Forest Specialist
hilary.foote@state.or.us
Phone: 503-934-0622

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