Mississippi's agricultural heritage is rich. In order to stay that way, the industry has filled itself with innovation in different capacities. But it's not just the state of Mississippi hoping to keep this business alive. Farmers from Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi came to the Mississippi Agritourism Conference Saturday for new ideas.
"If you look back through history, we just see more and more family farms that are failing. And agritourism is an opportunity for farmers to create some type of interest on their farm where customers come out and visit the farm, see different animals, visit a pumpkin patches, Christmas tree farms, and things like that. Just unique items that people want to come out and visit the farm for," says Michael May of Lazy Acres in Chunky.
Ideas like pumpkin patches and activities were shared among the farmers. There are many concepts farmers are considering to help their business.
"Well one of the things we do as far as trying to increase our profits is considering what different types of products we should offer on a farm. Do we offer gifts? Do we offer activities, concessions, and things like that? All to help increase and draw a little extra income to a family farm," explains May.
Questions like these were answered today by Jane Eckert, the President of Eckert Agritourism Marketing. She says one things for sure.
"It's very important in agritourism business to have a good first impression."
And part of that first impression now leads to the inner workings of the Internet. Eckert says this global tool for communication is key for today's farmers.
"The way to reach people is to have a good website. And it's very critical today as people are searching on the Internet for things to do with their families that farms have a good website," says Eckert.
A good website allows people from all walks of life to discover different farms. It also allows people to look deeper into the opportunities family farms provide.
"The technology of the Internet has moved this industry forward by leaps and bounds very rapidly. As people are understanding that farms can be great family experiences the Internet has really helped us grow our business," says Eckert.
During the conference, farmers had the opportunity to learn new ideas during two workshops. One focused on growing green: making money at your farm business. The other focused on farm marketing from scratch.