News from the New York State
Legislative Commission on Rural Resources

Senator George H. Winner, Jr., Chairman
Assemblyman David Koon, Vice Chairman

Contact: Ronald C. Brach at (518) 455-2544
For Release: Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Agritourism Legislation Signed Into Law
Measure adopted as more farmers turn to tourism to strengthen operations, keep farms viable

Albany, N.Y., August 31-- Legislation sponsored by State Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira) and Assemblyman David Koon (D, Fairport) that promotes "agricultural tourism" as an increasingly popular practice vital to the future of the state's agricultural industry, has been signed into law by Governor George Pataki.

The legislation, sponsored by the bipartisan NYS Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, was unanimously approved by the Legislature earlier this year.

"We're wise to encourage agritourism development in New York State. Farming and tourism remain economic and cultural mainstays of rural, upstate New York communities, but we have to keep monitoring the strength of these leading industries," said Winner, chairman of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources. "Many farmers are attracting tourists with farm tours, educational facilities, roadside markets, farm-stay vacations and other on-the-farm attractions. Diversifying farm operations with a tourism component has proven profitable for many farmers in New York and other states. It helps them keep their land in farming and heightens the public's awareness of agriculture's importance."

According to Assemblyman Koon, "Agricultural tourism is being embraced by an increasing number of farm operators as a way to increase diversity and profitability while also helping to preserve agricultural land and open space. It can also serve the purpose of educating the public about the importance of agriculture, and its contribution to the local economy, quality of life, and nutrition. Too much of our food is imported. We need to expand the availability of fresh, nutritious foods grown nearby. All New Yorkers will benefit from thriving local farms. Preserving these farm operations is not only important to farmers, and to the urban and suburban families who visit our wineries and apple orchards, but also to the economy of rural communities where tourists spend their dollars on a visit to the farm."

New York Farm Bureau President John Lincoln praised the new law saying "we are pleased that Governor Pataki signed this legislation into law and appreciate the efforts of Senator Winner, Assemblyman Koon and the Rural Resources Commission to move this bill forward."

"A growing number of New York farmers are looking at agritourism activities as a way to diversify their farm business and educate the public about agriculture. This new agritourism law provides the support they need to implement these new activities and maintain farm sustainability" Lincoln added.

Earlier this year the state of Pennsylvania conducted an assessment of agritourism, including a wide-ranging survey of those currently involved in the growing industry. Approximately 90 percent of those surveyed said that agritourism was an economic growth opportunity for Pennsylvania's rural regions.

The new law sponsored by Winner and Koon will include a definition of agricultural tourism in New York's right to farm laws, as well as in the state's list of sound agricultural practices. Doing so, according to the sponsors, will help promote agritourism as a commonly accepted farming practice in New York and protect farmers from nuisance suits and other potential land use conflicts that sometimes arise with neighboring property owners who may be unfamiliar with agricultural operations. They added that the legislation will also help improve the effectiveness of local right-to-farm ordinances being adopted by a growing number of municipalities seeking to preserve a hospitable operating environment for their farmers.

Winner and Koon highlighted several other benefits of agritourism, including:

  • increased farm profitability;

  • preservation of agricultural land and open space; and

  • educating the public about the importance of agriculture and its contribution to local economies and quality of life.

Agricultural tourism opportunities throughout New York State include on-farm wine and other farm-related tours, educational facilities, barn dances, corn mazes, outdoor recreation such as cross country skiing and horse riding, hay rides, gift shops, and farm-stay vacations with opportunities for families to spend time living and working on an operating farm.

Winner and Koon said that the 2006-07 state budget included $1 million, at the legislature's insistence, for an "Agri-Tourism Projects" initiative, administered through the state Department of Agriculture and Markets (Ag and Markets), to encourage the development, implementation or expansion of agri-tourism projects statewide. Applications are currently being accepted for a round of funding that will provide up to $50,000 in matching grants for projects involving traditional agri-tourism activities, as well as new approaches in promoting New York food and agriculture. Individuals, public and private agencies and organizations, business and industry, educational institutions and local governments are eligible to submit proposals.

Eligible projects should involve endeavors that promote New York food and agriculture by attracting visitors to New York State for economic, social, cultural, environmental and/or educational purposes.

Examples of eligible projects may include but are not limited to direct marketing efforts, educational offerings, entertainment, lodging and dining.

Applications are currently available by calling 1-800-554-4501 or online at The deadline for submitting an application is September 11, 2006.


The Legislative Commission on Rural Resources is a joint-bipartisan agency in the state legislature composed of five senators and five assembly members. The chairman is Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira), the vice chairman is Assemblyman David Koon (D-Perinton). Other Commission members are Senator Mary Lou Rath (R-C Amherst), Senator James W. Wright (R-I Watertown), Senator Neil D. Breslin (D-Albany), Senator William T. Stachowski (D-Buffalo), Assemblyman Darrel J. Aubertine (D-Watertown), Assemblywoman Barbara S. Lifton (D-Ithaca), Assemblyman James Bacalles (R-C, Corning), and Assemblyman Daniel J. Burling (R, I, C-Castile).

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