Extension Entities Collaborate To Support Missouri's Agricultural Businesses

   Agriculture affects our daily lives in many ways. From the food we eat to the strength of local economies, agriculture is a cornerstone of American life.
   COVID-19 has disrupted Missouri’s agricultural industry through lower, unstable commodity prices, strain on the food supply chain and changes in consumer purchasing habits.
   The U.S. Small Business Administration provided additional funding to the Missouri Small Business Development Centers(opens in new window) (SBDC) to increase business support capacity. Designated in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the funding allows Missouri SBDC, a program of University of Missouri Extension, to expand services and partnerships to mitigate risks stemming from COVID-19.
   “As our teams looked for ways to help agriculture continue to thrive in our state, an interdisciplinary partnership between MU Extension and Missouri SBDC was a natural fit,” said MU Vice Chancellor for Extension and Engagement Marshall Stewart. “We’re eager to see how these two groups will support Missouri’s agriculture businesses in this uncertain time.”
   Missouri SBDC, MU Extension agriculture and environment (A&E) specialists, and MU Extension agricultural economists will combine expertise and resources to serve Missouri agriculture. The partnership will be formally known as the Missouri SBDC for Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
   “It’s innovative partnerships like this that help us progress toward Missouri agriculture’s fullest potential,” said Chris Daubert, MU vice chancellor and dean of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. “Efforts such as the Food, Beverage and Forest Products Manufacturing(opens in new window) initiative, as well as MU Extension A&E’s newest partnership, can aid family farms, food entrepreneurs and small businesses.”
   With the Missouri SBDC increasing small business sales by more than $234 million from 2017 to 2019, Daubert said he is confident this new partnership will enhance Missouri’s agriculture, food and forestry industries.
   Missouri SBDC and MU Extension A&E’s work will focus on assisting businesses with moving forward from the recent disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. From financial management education to business model pivots and value proposition identification, faculty across the state will provide assistance and access to resources to strengthen Missouri’s agricultural businesses.
   “COVID-19 and the resulting national recession has accelerated economic disruption and the need for business adaptation,” said Mallory Rahe, MU Extension’s educational director of agriculture business policy programs. “We are drawing widely across our extension experts to build a responsive team that can help producers and other business owners think about their options and make informed decisions.”
   “Extension specialists’ local relationships and expertise, combined with the Missouri SBDC’s business knowledge and resources, can provide a powerful new level of services to agriculture businesses facing today’s challenges,” said David Steffes, Missouri SBDC director of agricultural business services. ∆
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