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Missouri Innovation Center cultivates growth in local agribusinesses

Value-added agricultural producers now have access to a variety of hands-on assistance and resources through the new Missouri Agriculture, Food and Forestry Innovation Center (MAFFIC).
Supported by a two-year, $1.3 million grant from USDA Rural Development, the center offers free services for agricultural producers working to take their value-added businesses to the next level. With a staff of 13 advisers knowledgeable in a wide range of subjects, MAFFIC draws on expertise at the University of Missouri and the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority. A group of industry leaders provide oversight and input by serving on the center’s board of directors.

MoFoodForestryInnCenterT“The challenges of the last few years have created opportunities for Missouri producers,” said Ashley McCarty, MAFFIC board member and executive director of Missouri Farmers Care. “When producers can mobilize production, marketing and distribution, they can meet market demand and give consumers access to locally produced products. MAFFIC is ready to help Missouri value-added producers succeed.”

Since MAFFIC officially opened in early January, the center has already worked with 65 small business owners who develop niche goods, including farm-finished meat, honey and elderberry products.

“Many food and farm entrepreneurs are really good at making a product,” said Mallory Rahe, co-director of MAFFIC and faculty with MU Extension. “It’s our job to support them on the financial analysis and business decision-making side, and that’s where our skills and services come in.”

Agricultural entrepreneurs interested in exploring or expanding value-added businesses can learn more about the center, find resources and request technical assistance at missouriaginnovation.com.

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