Washington, DC -- Today, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) hosted an Agritourism 101 briefing open to all congressional offices. As the co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Agritourism Caucus, Wexton welcomed businesses from Virginia’s 10th Congressional District to share their perspective on the impacts of agritourism on local economies and communities to help spark a discussion about the importance of agritourism among her congressional colleagues.
“I’ve toured two dozen different agritourism businesses in every part of my district, and at each farm, U-pick, winery, brewery, and more, I heard about how important agritourism is for our farmers,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. “Agritourism helps our farmers succeed and grow their small businesses while preserving the rural character of our communities. Today’s briefing was a success in demonstrating the growing importance of agritourism to my colleagues from across the country.”
Wexton launched the bipartisan Congressional Agritourism Caucus last August alongside her Republican colleague, Congressman David Rouzer (R-NC). Dozens of congressional staffers attended the briefing and were treated to apple cider donuts from Great Country Farms in Bluemont, Virginia and apples from Fruit Hill Orchard, Inc. The discussion focused on ways that other members of Congress can engage with and support agritourism businesses in their own districts across the country.
Participants in today’s briefing included: Livvy Preisser, Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent and Unit Coordinator, Virginia Cooperative Extension; Diane Kearns, President, Fruit Hill Orchard Inc. and Co-owner, Winchester Ciderworks; Kate Zurschmeide, Owner, Great Country Farms and Bluemont Vineyards; and Shawn Harding, President, North Carolina Farm Bureau.
Agritourism is a commercial enterprise that attracts travelers and visitors to an area used primarily for agricultural purposes, providing a range of unique experiences to their communities such as taking a hayride at a pumpkin patch, picking apples at an orchard, and wine tasting at a vineyard. These businesses, many of which are small or family-owned, provide recreational and educational opportunities for the public while also earning additional income for the owners.
Since Wexton founded the bipartisan Congressional Agritourism Caucus, she has visited twenty-four different agritourism businesses in every part of Virginia’s 10th Congressional District and the Congressional Agritourism Caucus has grown to eighteen members. There are over 1,400 agritourism businesses in Virginia and more than 230 in Virginia’s 10th district alone.
Photos from today’s briefing can be found here.
Photos from some of Wexton’s visits to agritourism businesses can be found here.