SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Maryland Governor Larry Hogan today approved a bill (HB558) that adds “camping” and “incidental outdoor stays” to the definition of agritourism. The bill modernizes the state’s definition of agritourism, opening critical economic opportunities to Maryland farmers.
“Prioritizing policy that makes outdoor stays more accessible advances two of Maryland’s signature industries — agriculture and tourism,” said Hipcamp Head of Government & Community Relations Mason Smith. “We’re thrilled to partner with Maryland farmers to help more people get outside while keeping working lands working.”
Hipcamp partnered closely with the Maryland Farm Bureau and Hipcamp Hosts across the state to advocate for the change.
“Because the vast majority of Maryland citizens are three generations or more removed from farming, this change creates an opportunity for folks to increase their appreciation of where their food comes from and will create a greater appreciation for the Maryland farmer,” said Colby Ferguson, Director of Government Relations at the Maryland Farm Bureau. “This change to the state definition of agritourism also sets the roadmap for counties to add farm camping to their definition of agritourism to help farmers add value to their farm.”
Agritourism provides much-needed revenue stream for pandemic-beleaguered farmers
Maryland's updated bill enables farmers within the state to generate new revenue streams at a time when many are struggling under the weight of pandemic-related financial burdens.
Soaring fuel, feed, machine, and fertilizer costs have inspired rural landowners across Maryland and the rest of the nation to begin searching for ways to supplement their incomes.
Many farmers have turned to Hipcamp as a way to seamlessly host campers, glampers, and RVers on their land. New Hipcamp listings in Maryland have grown by 269% since 2019, and demand for bookings in the state have surged by 872% during the same period.
Hipcamp Hosts across the country, more than half of whom are farmers or ranchers, earned more than $31M last year. More than 80% of Hipcamp Hosts report investing their earnings back into their land to prevent sell-offs, pay taxes, or maintain their properties.
Maryland farmer promotes local tourism, shares agricultural heritage with hundreds of campers each year via Hipcamp
Hipcamp Host and Maryland native Jeremy Willet has been welcoming tent campers and glampers onto the Willet Family Farm since 2019. During his first year with Hipcamp, he hosted more than 200 visitors, and today he averages $1,000-2,000 a month from camping reservations alone.
Willet’s local community benefits from his agritourism work as well, and visitors to his farm have driven an estimated $180,000 in revenue to neighboring businesses.
In 2020, Willet’s local Chamber of Commerce recognized his efforts in attracting local tourism by awarding the family a $5,000 prize. Using the data from his farmstay bookings, Willet was also able to secure a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to hire his first employee on the farm.
“During the pandemic, farmstay reservations via Hipcamp were one of our main revenue streams,” says Willet. “Revising the definitions of agritourism to include camping and agritourism will open the gate to ensure farmers just like us can continue the tradition of protecting our land and way of life.”
Hipcamp looks forward to partnering with other member organizations and state and local lawmakers to promote agritourism opportunities in rural communities across the nation.
Founded in 2013, Hipcamp is the world’s largest provider of outdoor stays. It gives a growing community of good-natured people the opportunity to list, discover, and book unique outdoor experiences. By connecting people with the land and each other, Hipcamp works to support the planet and protect biodiversity. The fully remote company operates in Australia, the United States, Canada, and the UK, and to date has helped people spend more than 6 million nights under the stars. When listing on Hipcamp, farmers, ranchers, vintners, and other landowners generate new revenue streams to conserve their land and keep it wild.
About Maryland Farm Bureau
MARYLAND FARM BUREAU®, INC. is a 501(c)(5) federation that serves as the united voice of Maryland farm families. Our organizational strength comes from the active participation of over 10,000 individual and family members who belong to the state’s 23 local county Farm Bureau organizations. Since 1915, Maryland Farm Bureau has been committed to protecting and growing agriculture and preserving rural life. Maryland Farm Bureau is a proud member of the American Farm Bureau® Federation. www.mdfarmbureau.com
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Maryland Farm Bureau: @mdfarmbureau