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Agritourism grows in rural Wyoming communities

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Wyoming’s economic well-being revolves around three industries – energy, agriculture and tourism, but according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 2017 Census Report, agritourism is on the rise in Wyoming.

In fact, Wyoming earned $29.1 million from agritourism and recreational activities in 2017, more than doubling the 2012 total. 

A 2021 study conducted by Allied Market Research (AMR) projected the global agritourism industry will expand by an additional 13.4 percent by 2027.

Currently, in Wyoming, numerous family-owned ranches and farms have already incorporated agritourism into their business model to supplement their income. 

USDA has identified growth in dude ranches and hunting services, as well as  in the local food movement. 

This research has identified how roadside stands, U-pick farms, farm-based bed and breakfasts and other diverse businesses have supported local communities and have identified what makes an agritourism business successful.

Agritourism benefits

USDA identifies agritourism as “a form of commercial enterprise linking agricultural production or processing with tourism to attract visitors onto a farm, ranch or other agricultural business for the purposes of entertaining or educating visitors while generating income for the farm, ranch or business owner.”

According to AMR, “Agritourism, is a rapidly expanding sector, propelled by several key industry trends and growth drivers.”

Individuals desire authentic experiences, which drives demand with travelers seeking hands-on encounters and allowing visitors to experience activities like cattle drives or cheese making on a dairy farm. 

Furthermore, agritourism positively impacts local economies, creating jobs and stimulating the development of supportive infrastructure, thereby contributing to rural development. 

“Agritourism benefits rural farms and landowners as it promotes and educates the public about agriculture,” states AMR. “It also provides opportunities for individuals to fulfill a desire while connecting with their local food systems, and it can influence consumer behavior in favor of local food consumption.”

USDA also notes agritourism incentivizes land preservation, which enhances the local quality of life and promotes social and economic benefits to strengthen surrounding rural communities.

The road to success

Agritourism is a rapidly growing field, and local organizations offer individuals resources to be successful.

“The Wyoming Business Council (WBC) has numerous resources for individuals to access, from starting and financing a new business, and we can facilitate and share information to best utilize their programs and services,” states WBC Regional Director Kristen Fong.

“The ag industry has influenced the landscape and economy of rural communities in Wyoming, and expanding farm businesses to include agritourism opportunities can provide a mechanism to keep farms financially stable and offer a diversity of agricultural experiences to visitors,” she continues. 

Fong adds, “We can help anyone looking to expand into agritourism by exploring financial grants and regulations, tax law issues and other topics of starting a new business on the ranch or farm.”

Even local colleges have joined the agritourism evolution. In 2022, Sheridan College, part of the Northern Wyoming Community College District, introduced an agritourism certificate program. 

The program focuses on agritourism and provides a cutting-edge option for individuals looking to enter the agricultural industry or those who want to increase the viability of their family operation. 

In 2021, Casper College introduced a one-year certificate program designed to train the next generation of ranch and agritourism managers.

Both certificate programs combine agricultural business, technology, hospitality and event planning to give individuals all of the tools needed to build and operate an agritourism operation.

According to their website, “The Casper College Ranch Management certificate program develops graduates to be marketable and employable by developing a unique skill set geared toward the broader agricultural industry.”

In 2019, Colorado State University launched the nation’s first online graduate certificate in agritourism management.

Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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