OUR OPINION: Ag grants kick-starting new ideas

To grow a healthy plant, farmers know it all starts with healthy soil.

Proper use of fertilizer can increase the yield and ensure healthy produce by achieving the right balance of nutrients in the soil.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture is effectively using such a philosophy of cultivating growing agribusinesses through its Show-Me Entrepreneurial Grants for Agriculture program.

Twenty-eight Missouri operations were the recipients of those grants, designed to help Missouri farmers, small businesses and higher education institutions add value to existing agricultural products or provide educational opportunities for those wanting to do so.

Four of those 28 awardees are from Mid-Missouri. They are: The Farm Table, Westphalia Trading Co., Fulton Wurst Haus & Butchery and Eldon's ICF (Ice Cream Factory) Holdings.

"Adding value to our agricultural products is a huge opportunity to grow Missouri's top economic driver," Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn said in a news release. "Funds awarded through the SEGA program will kick-start ideas across our state and help our farmers and small-business owners create more opportunity."

Nearly $4 million is being provided through the grant program, which was developed to address recommendations of the Missouri Food, Beverage and Forest Products Manufacturing Task Force chaired by Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe in 2019.

For The Farm Table in California, it can hire a graphic designer with the matching grant. The designer's skills will help the company that provides locally-grown meat share recipes and ideas for ways to cook the meat, increasing its value to customers and offering the California business the opportunity to expand its operation.

Similarly, a grant will help a Westphalia company expand its business.

Westphalia Trading Co., which is a custom building operation for structures like chicken coops, play houses and she-sheds that are sold in Missouri and surrounding states, will help the business build a shed or shop for the lumber he uses, as well as invest in equipment to add more value to the lumber he uses in his products.

The end goal of those two local examples and the other 26 employers is to increase the value of their products and business, as well as potentially adding new jobs in the future.

The grants are doing an exceptional job of helping Missouri businesses increase the yield from the money and labor they have invested in the state.

-- News Tribune

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