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US (MO): University Extension provides resources for specialty ag producers

Missouri's urban and specialty agriculture producers—and those considering starting an agricultural enterprise—have new business planning resources at their fingertips.

University of Missouri Extension has released new planning budgets for a host of specialty agriculture enterprises, including high tunnel tomatoes, hydroponic leafy greens, microgreens, Lisianthus cut flowers and beekeeping, as well as a primer on controlled-environment agriculture production. Interactive budgets include projections for 2024 market prices, production, input expenses and ownership costs. The resources are available at

"Our specialty budgets were designed to help producers evaluate the feasibility and sustainability of their operation," said Juo-Han Tsay, MU Extension agricultural economist. "Extension professionals worked with experts and Missouri producers to ground-truth prices and production assumptions, which can help users feel confident in utilizing the tools in their own enterprises."

Much like MU Extension's crop and livestock enterprise budgets, the new specialty agriculture production budgets are customizable, said MU Extension agricultural economist Ryan Milhollin.

"These budgets are helpful tools for producers to understand what resources and investments might be required to start a new production venture," said Milhollin. "Beyond the costs associated with establishing a specialty enterprise, like beekeeping, producers can understand the potential returns incurred from scaling up their business."

Manita Ale, an MU Extension agricultural business specialist based in St. Louis, notes that existing enterprise budgets are a critical component of a larger effort to support producers as they make sound business planning decisions.

"Urban producers, or farmers interested in diversifying their operations to include specialty products, need easily accessible resources," said Ale. "Extension will continue building out resources and offering programming to equip producers with knowledge to see their specialty agriculture enterprises move from idea to implementation."

MU Extension's specialty agriculture resources also benefit Missouri agribusiness and agency partners as they aid producers in making sound management decisions, Ale said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's St. Louis Urban Service Center is one such partner to leverage extension resources as they help urban producers with starting or expanding agriculture operations.

"Extension's specialty agriculture resources are instrumental in helping our team provide better customer service to our clients and process loan applications more efficiently," said Kallie Turner, USDA Farm Service Agency loan manager. "The knowledge and expertise disseminated through MU Extension bridges gaps where our own experience lacks, and the data available at our fingertips helps us make informed decisions."


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