Agritourism: Keeping Your Visitors Happy and Healthy

As a collaborative team, UMASH and the MDH have developed resources to promote health and safety on the farm. These resources include educational posters, fact sheets and videos to highlight the importance of handwashing and to show how you can prepare and plan for guests on the farm.  These resources can be found on the UMASH website.

Imagine this scenario:  Fall is your favorite time of year- usually. You love the changing leaves, the pumpkin pie, and the hundreds of excited visitors that come to your farm to pick out their Halloween jack o’lanterns and play with the baby goats. This fall, however, has not gone according to plan. A few days ago you received a call from the Minnesota Department of Health that three children have been diagnosed with an E.coli infection. The believed source of the E.coli: your pumpkin patch. You thought you took the right precautions; you always made sanitation a priority; you never wanted anyone to get sick. But, here you are.

Although agritourism events serve as wonderful learning experiences, the interaction between animals and humans can cause disease outbreaks including Salmonella and E. coli.

Agritourism is an opportunity for farms to allow guests onto the premise to enjoy some kind of agriculture experience. “The purpose of agritourism is to educate the public about agriculture while also providing supplemental income to farmers,” says Senior Epidemiologist at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Carrie Klumb. Although agritourism events serve as wonderful learning experiences, the interaction between animals and humans can cause disease outbreaks including Salmonella and E. coli.

“We think agritourism is a great opportunity for people to learn about animal agriculture, and we encourage those opportunities. We just want to make sure that producers and visitors understand that there are risks and to know how to minimize them.”
— Carrie Klumb, Senior Epidemiologist, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)

These agritourism resources, including instructional videos, handwashing signage, and brochures; all stem from a national guidance called “The Compendium” that details the potential health risks and includes recommendations on facility design, animal contact, and distribution of food among other suggestions.  http://umash.umn.edu/agritourism/

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