New data shows importance of agritourism for Maine farmers

In-depth statistical and demographic information about Maine farms and others across the nation that offer agritourism-related activities, direct-to-consumer sales or both are available in a new set of fact sheets co-authored by a University of Maine researcher. 

Led by Claudia Schmidt, assistant professor of marketing and local/regional food systems at Penn State, a team of researchers including Jason Entsminger from UMaine created fact sheets that present data for the total number of farms engaging in agritourism, direct sales or both for every state and the nation. These resources also provide various demographic and business information about these farms, including crops grown, farmer age and gender, farm size and income generated by agritourism and direct sales. 

The data indicates that of the 7,600 total farms in Maine, 1,954 had engaged in direct sales, 156 in other agritourism activities only and 91 in both direct sales and other agritourism activities. Maine farm operations with agritourism and direct sales are typically producing on less than 50 acres and making less than $10,000 in revenue per farm.

Entsminger, assistant professor of entrepreneurship and innovation with the Maine Business School and small business specialist at University of Maine Cooperative Extension, and his colleagues hope that their work will support efforts by farmers, organizations and decision-makers to bolster agritourism. 

“This data shows the importance of agritourism and direct sales for Maine farms,” Entsminger says. “Among the 50 states, Maine had the third-highest proportion of our farms engaged in these activities, with 29% of the state’s farms inviting people onto the operation or selling directly to consumers. These activities accounted for roughly $44.5 million to Maine farms, most of whom are small, family-owned operations.”

The team developed its fact sheets using data obtained by a special request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Census of Agriculture.

“Maine welcomes millions of tourists each year and the ability for farmers and those in food-based businesses to engage with these visitors is an important strategy to move food and farming forward. There’s a statewide effort to create new growth opportunities for farmers and value-added food ventures and these fact sheets provide helpful data as these businesses continue to adjust and adapt in an ever-changing world,” says Hannah Carter, associate provost of continuing and online education and dean of UMaine Extension. 

Read the full release on the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development website. The center is based at Penn State.

Contact: Melissa Arndt,