“It is a pleasure to be here in Amery to kick off Agritourism Week,” said Governor Tony Evers to a group gathered to celebrate the special week.
Governor Evers said, “Farmers, growers and producers and other agriculture workers play an essential role in the health and well-being of folks across our state and the country.”
“Agricultural tourism is a growing contributor to our area economy,” said Amery Mayor Paul Isakson. “We’ve always been a farming community,” said Isakson, “but the types of farms have changed to include an increased focus on attracting visitors as well as selling products,” he said. “Consumers want to see how their food is grown, and they want to meet the farmers. Our area is rich in many kinds of agricultural opportunities — wineries, apple orchards and corn mazes, hayrides and petting zoos, pasture walks and more. We’ve decided to help farmers and food lovers find one another for memorable agricultural adventures,” said Isakson.
Mayor Isakson, civic leaders and area farmers joined at Amery’s Farm Table Restaurant to mark the start of Agritourism Week. Farm Table is a 100-seat nonprofit restaurant that sources 80 percent of its ingredients from within 40 miles, during the growing season. The restaurant and its associated art gallery and teaching space demonstrate the connections between local agriculture, social culture, environmental health, and community economic vitality.
Sylvia Burgos Toftness, owner of Bull Brook Keep and Chair of the Farm Table Board of Directors said, “This week celebrates not only the agriculture that we all benefit from, but the tourism that continues to grow year after year as more and more of us see that connection between what we eat and how it is grown.”
Agriculture contributes more than $104.8 billion annually to Wisconsin’s economy. he state is home to 64,793 farms on 14.3 million acres, with an average farm size of 221 acres. Annually, 435,700 jobs or 12% of state employment is involved in agriculture.
In 2019, Wisconsin tourism brought 112 million visitors, and over $21.6 Billion to the state. This added up to $1.6 billion in state and local taxes and $1.2 billion in Federal taxes. Agricultural tourism has grown annually, with visitors enjoying a wide range of activities, including farm to table events, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, wine tastings, harvest festivals, craft breweries, distilleries and farm weddings.
“We must continue to streamline our regulatory environment so that agricultural tourism and innovation can flourish and help our farmers, ranchers, and foresters meet the world’s growing demand for agritainment, ag-education, food, feed, fuel and fiber,” said Sheila Everhart, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association
Cylon Rolling Acres farmer Leslie Svacina said, “I look at it with a perspective that a partnership in agritourism helps us build relationships with our customers. Ultimately I see agritourism as being about sharing opportunities and experiences.”