Looking Ahead - 2021 Farm Experiences
Updated: Apr 5
The Global pandemic has changed the fabric of how we live and work. Eight months before everything changed in the U.S. I presented at the North American Fruit Explorers (NAFEX) & Northern Nut Growers Association (NNGA) conference in Iowa City, Iowa on how both national & global trends in agritourism were growing year over year. The presentation also highlighted data from Bekor’s Farm Experience Series. In that series, we interviewed farm operators across the U.S. on why they started hosting experiences on their farm, the challenges they faced, and the best advice they had for managing farm experiences. We found that farm operators tended to introduce farm experiences in response to the change in consumer demand and the unpredictability of market revenue. As we look ahead to how the pandemic has shifted consumer demands and how experiences are hosted there are two things we learned from the Farm Experience Series that will anchor your farm experiences this year.
Farm experiences that were successful established a structure and system for their experiences. This helped to keep events, employees, and the management of customers running smoothly. Updating existing operation systems will aide in managing things like physical distancing of customers, timed entry, and sanitizing protocols.
In the Farm Experience Series one farm operator advised that “you are always managing liability.” In light of the global pandemic this is still critical as operators plan experiences for the coming season. In addition to business insurance operators may want to consider consulting with an attorney to update the language in existing activity waivers or including waivers as a requirement for all activities. Note that according to an article from The National Law Review, COVID-19 liability waivers may not be enforceable depending upon your state and other factors. It’s important to seek the advice of an attorney and to adhere to guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). As of this writing the most up to date guidance from the CDC can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-agricultural-workers.html
For specific guidance on opening and operating farm experiences in your area be sure to also check the COVID-19 guidelines for your city and state.
Sources: https://www.cdc.gov https://www.natlawreview.com/article/waivers-not-waving-goodbye-to-covid-19-lawsuits