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Conference Name Developing Risk Management Infrastructure and Enhancing Business Skills for Under-served Agricultural Producers

Duncan M. Chembezi and E'licia Chaverest

Summary

Alabama is home to increased numbers of small, limited resource and socially disadvantaged beginning farmers and ranchers. Twenty-three counties in the state are defined as Strike-Force communities with persistent poverty and chronic health problems. Individuals in these communities often lack basic knowledge about production requirements, post-harvest handling and processing, marketing, enterprise diversification and record keeping. They also lack financial, marketing and risk management skills to start, own and/or operate viable farm businesses. Although information and knowledge are critical in coping with and managing agricultural risk, most agricultural producers in under-served communities struggle to find or use appropriate information. Most of them experience frustrations of not being able to locate answers to specific questions. We believe these producers must be assisted in understanding farm risk and the various tools or strategies to mitigate it. The goal in this poster is to share our risk management experiences and lessons learned working with hard-to-reach and economically depressed communities and audiences. This poster offers and presents preliminary risk management education and training results and lessons learned working the target audience. It shares lessons and observations from our current risk management education projects funded by two separate grants from USDA-RMA-RMED and also from USDA-NIFA-ERME administered by the Southern Risk Management Education Center (SRMEC) at the University of Arkansas. These projects address the unique needs and challenges of under-served agricultural producers, some of whom are transitioning and/or converting to urban agriculture. The project is currently providing targeted farm financial literacy training, marketing education, business planning training, and overall risk management education training to 78 new and beginning farmers in Alabama. We believe that the many lessons learned from these projects have educational value, and the projects' expected results are significant and attainable because these projects build on previous efforts and draws on the team's proven experience working with the target audience.

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