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Agritourism could mean more revenue for Montana ranchers and farmers

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Agritourism could generate more revenue for producers. Agritourism could generate more revenue for producers.
GREAT FALLS -

In March, Gov. Steve Bullock signed House Bill 342 which allows agricultural tourism (agritourism) in Montana.

The Montana Farmer's Union says agritourism could bring in extra revenue for producers by connecting enterprise with ag producers through tourism.

Projects Specialist and lobbyist Chris Christiaens says agritourism could educate tourists and students about Montana's agriculture industry and food production.

"We have many young students who have no idea where their milk comes from or what wheat really does and the different products that it produces," he said.

Christiaens says agriculture tourism could also provide opportunities for local farmers to learn from out-of-state producers about new crops like industrial hemp.

"We will be seeing people from Canada, our neighbor to the north, coming down to assist our farmers in learning all of the intricacies of the harvest of hemp, because it's a different crop one that we're not used to growing," he said. "We also need to know the different areas of processing for oil seed as an example, for phytoremediation of clean up of a hydrocarbon spill."

Christiaens says agritourism is already happening in Great Falls area horse racing this summer.

"By attending there, it is a form of agriculture tourism and it has really impacted the community of Great Falls with restaurants, other types of entertainment, where people from out of town as well as our own population can go and partake of it," he said.

Christiaens has been working with a number of agriculture organization in the state and believes the possibilities for agriculture tourism in Montana are endless.

He says an important part of the bill is the public must assume responsibility for inherent risks involved while out on a farm or ranch.

For more information, visit http://agr.mt.gov/Agritourism.

For more on House Bill 342, visit http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2017/hb0399/HB0342_x.pdf.

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