Ag Tourism Effort Aims to Push State's 'Calling Cards'

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The departments say the state has more than 300 farms, more than 140 farmers markets. The departments say the state has more than 300 farms, more than 140 farmers markets.

A new partnership aims to give Indiana a bigger piece of the growing agritourism pie. The state's Department of Agriculture and Office of Tourism Development say the collaboration will focus on education, marketing and policy and regulation in an effort to make Indiana an agritourism and culinary destination. Tourism Executive Director Mark Newman says Indiana's agricultural legacy and assets like Fair Oaks Farms in northwest Indiana and hundreds of wineries and craft distilleries, makes it "a natural" for the state to capitalize on the more than $700 million industry.

Newman says the strategy can reap specific benefits for rural areas, which often face additional economic struggles. He cites Fair Oaks Farms, which attracts more than 600,000 visitors each year, as well as the town of Converse in Grant County, which has says has "rebuilt their image around food." During an interview on Inside INdiana Business Television, he said ag tourism was pegged as a $700 million national industry the last time it was measured in 2012, and that is expected to be double this year.

The departments say the state has more than 300 farms and more than 140 farmers markets. Indiana also boasts more than 200 wineries, craft breweries and distilleries and nearly 12,000 restaurants. Newman says that's also an important asset, since travelers spent about $3.2 billion on food and beverage in 2015.

Newman says the ultimate goal is to draw more people to these industries and support those who are already there. He says culinary and agritourism are the "calling cards of our state," and the partnership will help make Indiana more of a destination for food- and farm-based experiences.

Newman will discuss the partnership and highlight some Indiana ag tourism hot spots this weekend on Inside INdiana Business Television.

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