Economic Evaluation of Agricultural Diversification through Agritourism for the Intermountain West

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2013: $74,492.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: Western
State: Utah
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Kynda Curtis
Utah State University

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, networking, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: agritourism, new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, cooperatives, marketing management, feasibility study, agricultural finance, market study, risk management, value added, whole farm planning
  • Production Systems: holistic management, organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, infrastructure analysis, leadership development, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, public participation, urban/rural integration, employment opportunities, social capital, social networks, sustainability measures


    Food tourism has been hailed as a vehicle for regional development that can strengthen local production through backward linkages in tourism supply-chain partnerships (Telfer and Wall, 1996; Renko, Renko and Polonijo, 2010). In rural areas where food production constitutes a large percentage of the economic output, food tourism offers new opportunities to promote and distribute local produce while providing an enhanced visitor experience through the expression of community identity and cultural distinctiveness (Rusher, 2003). Food tourism is important in strengthening a region’s identity, sustaining cultural heritage, easing fears of global food homogenization, supporting a region’s economic and socio-cultural foundation (Everett and Aitchison, 2008), and facilitating support for family farms (Chesky, 2009). Communities that embrace agritourism activities have shown to have an enhanced quality of life due to increased recreational opportunities, diversified economic bases, and retention of farmland (Ollenburg and Buckley 2007). The ultimate policy agenda for uniting food production and tourism are two-fold: to fulfill utility goals that involve the contribution of the farming sector in the overall health of the economy; and enhance equity goals that focus on the provision of satisfactory incomes for rural populations (Pretty, 2002).

    This project aims to disseminate best practices in food tourism enterprise development to Extension, Agency, and others working with agricultural producers and agritourism operators through development of a curriculum, web resources, and five workshops to be offered in Nevada, Utah, and Idaho. The audience for these workshops includes Extension educators, tribal staff, Department of Agriculture personnel, NRCS employees, county employees, conservation district staff, FSA personnel and other agribusiness and tourism professionals in Nevada, Utah, and Idaho. The project’s end goal is to encourage participants to work with producers and agritourism operators to implement food tourism enterprises as a diversification and revenue enhancement strategy.

    Project objectives:

    The primary project goal is to increase participant knowledge and skills regarding farm and food tourism opportunities, as well as to enhance their ability to effectively deliver knowledge and skills to agricultural producers and small food processors. The following is an overview of expected program short, medium and long-term outcomes for program participants.


    • Understand of economic, political, and environmental benefits of implementing food tourism enterprise
    • Understand the basic economics of diversification strategies, especially food tourism markets available to producers in the Intermountain West
    • Understand the components of evaluating the economic feasibility of food tourism
    • Understand tourist and tourism business purchase behaviors, needs, and motivations in relation to purchasing local foods


    • Create plan to introduce seminar curriculum and other SARE resources into producer programming
    • Work one-on-one with producers/agritoursm operators to evaluate the economic feasibility of food tourism for their operation
    • Assist producers/agritourism operators in developing a marketing plan that supports tourism promotional messages and strategies


    • Assist producers/agritoursm operators in implementing food tourism strategies for their operation
    • Assist producers/agritoursm operators in accessing food tourism networks and distribution channels
    • Assist producers/agritoursm operators with the measurement of changes in profitability and economic sustainability of their food tourism diversification strategies


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.