Missouri small farmers and ranchers wanting to raise production and increase their efficiency should know the man heading the Innovative Small Farmers’ Outreach Program (ISFOP) – Dr. K.B. Paul – has worked with dedicated teams providing this priceless service – all over the world.
Countless small farmers and ranchers in India, Africa and the United States have benefitted from his experience with similar programs. Paul is ISFOP’s program director.
The outreach is part of the Lincoln University Cooperative Extension, which helps Missouri small farmers and ranchers – especially those socially disadvantaged and underserved – do more with their operations. The program emphasizes sound soil and water conservation.
In addition to Lincoln University, Missouri’s program cooperates with several USDA agencies, local nongovernmental organizations as well as the University of Missouri Extension.
In Southwest Missouri, the program operates in six counties (Jasper, Newton, McDonald, Lawrence, Barry and Greene), as well as in both the St. Louis and Kansas City regions.
When Paul and his associates recruit candidates, they look for farmers and ranchers who meet the four following requirements:
n Your family lives on a farm, rural or urban.
n Products or income from the farm provides family sustenance.
n Your family manages and does most of your farm labor.
n Your total annual family income (on- and off-farm) is less than $50,000.
Requirements are necessary for recruiting, but ISFOP doesn’t turn anyone away.
“Anytime anybody calls us, we help them out,” Paul told Ozarks Farm & Neighbor. “We never ask about their income. Our services are available to everyone.”
Those services regularly result in tangible benefits and grateful clients. How does the program work?
In one example, three Southwest Missouri clients – each of whom took a workshop on good agricultural practices – built new packing facilities, helping ensure a higher standard of produce safety.
Among other skills, clients learn how to lower costs, get reimbursed with emergency-assistance funding, increase yields, improve record-keeping and find niche markets.
Clients learn about new farm practices as well. After attending a workshop on irrigation, seven families began using drip-irrigation water techniques to enhance their commercial vegetable operations.
Nahshon Bishop, the program’s small-farm specialist who coordinates Barry and McDonald counties, summed it up this way:
“What makes the program special is the real world knowledge we have of farming,” he said. “Most members own their own farms. We understand what the individuals are going through, and we’ve already made the mistakes. We have relationships that we continually develop with the core clientele we’re lucky to serve.
“Using a multiagency approach, we provide research-based information so farmers can make an informed decision about their farming practices,” Bishop said.
In 2015, about 325 small-farm families have benefited from ISFOP’s expertise and guidance in all three-state regions.


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