25. Safety and Risk Management

Agritourism is the fastest growing segment of revenue for small farms in America (according to the USDA). People want to pay for experiences, and are looking for new things to do on the weekend.

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Safety and Risk Management

If you have done any realistic thinking, you know that there will be safety and risk management considerations that you must cover in order to run your agritourism business. While you should not be discouraged about it, you will definitely want to cover all the grounds so you don’t end up in trouble. Prevention is, for sure, the best measure.

Farm visits have a ton of benefits. They allow a wonderful experience for urban residents. Enjoying nature, getting physical exercise and being out in the open, fresh air are on the list for positives. But, the experience can also pose potential dangers that you simply must be prepared for. Your visitors can get injured on your property. It may or may not be your fault but it is your property so you are the one who must take the precautions so you don’t lose your shirt if the worst does happen.

Make safety your first priority beyond anything else. You will want to make sure your guests are as secure as possible and educated about any lurking dangers as well.

The following are some suggestions on how to reduce your risks and still offer a fantastic time at your farm.

Reduce your Risks but Not the Experience

There are some wise things you will want to add into your agritourism business that are “no brainers”. Common sense goes a long way. Other things are less obvious though. The following will help you find balance between safety and allowing your visitors to experience the fun.

  • Liability insurance cannot be avoided. Be sure you have all that you need. If you are in doubt as to your needs, employ the assistance of a professional to advise you.
  • Identify the areas that are and are not accessible to your guests. Clearly mark them. Use a visible physical boundary to keep visitors out of dangerous or off-limits sections.
  • Don’t be caught off-guard. Prevention is the key. Plan for emergencies that might crop up and be prepared for them in advance. Floods, natural disasters and even acts of terror should all be addressed and a plan of action for every situation should be intact.
  • Clothing is an area of concern. If your guest will be walking through areas where they could trip or encounter a snake, set a rule that closed-toe shoes be worn. You might also state they are forbidden to wear shorts or anything else that is wise as far as attire goes when on your property.
  • Verbally make known the dangers that might occur on your land such as insects, snakes, uneven ground, etc. You might be surprised how little city people know about being in the wide open. It is your duty to inform them.

Animals and Livestock Safety

It is important to keep your livestock safe and it’s imperative to keep your visitors safe from your livestock. Even if the animals on your land are friendly dogs or cats, you must keep standards up to par so there are no unforeseen dangers.

The following are some great rules to adhere to concerning animals and livestock:

  • Always supervise when humans and animals interact.
  • Keep your animals where humans cannot pet or feed them without being overseen.
  • Be sure your personal dogs or cats are friendly to all guests or keep them separated.
  • If you have small or large livestock that can be aggressive, take precautionary measures. Sometimes it’s the unsuspected aggressors that cause problems like turkeys or geese.
  • Keep a good eye on children around livestock and animals, both for the children’s sake and for that of the animal or livestock.
  • Germs can lurk from people petting the animals so be sure to have a proper place where they can wash their hands after being around livestock or animals. Also take care to promptly remove manure and all other unsanitary things that can be around the premises where livestock or animals reside. Be considerate to eliminate or control animal or livestock odors the best you can too. Organic, natural solutions, like baking soda, are always the best measures to take.

Farm Equipment

The farm equipment on your property may pose the most danger to your guests. That can be a problem when it is also the main attraction such as taking a tractor ride to the crop area or going on a hayride. Still, you must make sure your guests are safe. Verbally advise them of the dangers and set rules such as all limbs must be in a given area of safety. Have them sign releases that they have been informed. Keep your equipment running and in good condition.

Facilities on Your Land

Here are some areas you will need to accommodate for and also will need to keep safe and secure:

  • Restrooms must be clean and also free of dangerous things such as sticks they could trip over.
  • Parking should be well-lit and properly designated.
  • Buses should be parked away from your animals and from other vehicles and human traffic.
  • Security should be in place if you are hosting a large event or one that might be controversial.
  • Your equipment should not be abused. Don’t pile a bunch of children on a tractor as it was not intended to be used in such a manor.
  • Deal with pests in a responsible way. If you have an organic farm, you will want to use an organic pest control Pesticides and herbicides, organic or otherwise, should always be stored in a safe place with other hazardous materials.

Miscellaneous Dangers

Water is a danger, especially to children. Be sure to mark bodies of water with signs and also rope or fence them off. Have life-saving devices nearby as well.

Moving farm equipment is always a danger potential. If you have moving farm equipment on your land, especially if it is part of the experience, like hayrides, be sure to adhere to strict safety regulations and make sure your guests are instructed to as well. Speeds, pot holes and working conditions of the equipment should all be addressed for safety.