Missouri received USDA Risk Management Agency funds for Veterans as New Farmers in Missouri, Project Number: 10531. Kathie Starkweather, Director, Rural Opportunities Program, Center for Rural Affairs, will serve as Project Director and Karen Funkenbusch, Director, Missouri AgrAbility Project, will lead training on disability services, provide services to disabled farmers, arrange a farm tour with an AgrAbility client, and participate in project planning activities. Missouri will provide five introductory workshops and four farm tours to forty military veterans in the central Missouri region surrounding Fort Leonard Wood (FLW). FLW is a center for Armed Services member training and many recently retired veterans have chosen to settle in the surrounding communities. Area educational and service organizations will provide initial education and services for prospective farmers among these veterans. Veteran-to-farmer activities under the Risk Management Agency grant will start after July 1st.
AgrAbility staff members Maureen Cunningham, director, Brain Injury Association of Missouri, Jon Sabala, veteran services director, Department of Mental Health, and Karen Funkenbusch, MU extension, participated in the monthly MOBHA Alliance teleconference. The mission of the MOBHA is to make effective, culturally sensitive behavioral health services accessible to service members, veterans, and their families by establishing strategies to raise awareness, increase availability, improve communication, and promote prevention. Alliance members include Army OneSource, Missouri Veterans Commission, Missouri AgrAbility Project, Missouri National Guard, Missouri Association of Veterans Organizations, Brain Injury Association of Missouri, Missouri Coalition of Mental Health Centers, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Department of Mental Health, Truman Medical Center Office of Psychological Services, and University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Staff members from the Innovative Small Farmers Outreach Program continued to partner with the MO AgrAbility Project. The ISFOP is a program of Lincoln University Cooperative Extension (LUCE), created to help the small farmers and ranchers of Missouri, especially those who are socially disadvantaged and under-served, to raise the level of efficiency on their farms while taking good care of the soil, water, and environment. A vast body of resources is available from universities, government agencies and all sorts of organizations for small farmers. Unfortunately, many of the small farmers and ranchers are unaware of the information or opportunities that are available to them. ISFOP helps make farmers aware of, and assists them to, access these resources so that they may improve their farms and farming operations, which in turn will improve their overall well-being. The information provided by ISFOP to small farmers will help them adapt to a rapidly changing economy. They work in partnership with University of Missouri Extension, other key state agencies, and non-governmental organizations to provide research-based information on various farm topics to help farmers: lower input costs, improve farming skills, increase yields/productions, improve record keeping systems, try new enterprises, find niche markets, improve marketing skills, and add value to the harvest/products. If you have any questions contact Dr. K. B. Paul, ISOFP Program Leader, Lincoln University Cooperative Extension at 573.681.5584 or PaulK@LincolnU.edu.
Submitted by Karen Funkenbusch