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UGA offers small business expertise to farmers By Christopher James

The University of Georgia is combining its expertise in agriculture and economic development into a one-day conference later this month.

The UGA Small Business Development Center, a unit of Public Service and Outreach, along with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Cooperative Extension will host a Georgia Farm Business Education Conference in Tifton on Feb. 25. Agriculture is the biggest industry in the state with a value of $14.1 billion in 2014, according to UGA’s Farm Gate Value report released last fall.

“UGA is known for resources for agriculture and agribusiness,” said Debbie Finney, UGA SBDC Albany area director. “We wanted to focus on the business side of farming. But at the same time, you can’t do that without bringing in experts from both sides.”

Laura Perry Johnson, UGA’s associate dean for Extension, said her office was excited to work with the SBDC on the conference.

“The partnership between UGA Extension and the Small Business Development Center is a great example of Cooperative Extension and public service working together and pooling our resources to offer better service to our clientele,” Johnson said.

The conference runs from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and costs $69, or $49 for attendees who register before Feb. 12. Experts from across the university will discuss topics such as cash flow, agritourism and exports. The program was designed with an eye toward the variety of needs for a wide range of businesses related to agriculture.

Farmers face the same challenges as any small business, and that’s where the SBDC and university’s other resources can help, Finney said. She regularly works with her local UGA Extension office when advising clients and hopes this conference will be a gateway to the entire lineup of assistance UGA offers.

“We do work across units,” Finney said. “It was very important to bring the entities together to have a complete program. I think when people realize the resources the university has, they just get more exposure to what they can come back to after the program.”

For more information or to register, see www.georgiasbdc.org/georgia-farm-business-education-conference.

(Christopher James is a public relations specialist with the University of Georgia Office of Public Service and Outreach.)

Tractor mowing pasture
Tractor mowing pasture

A farmer uses his tractor to bushhog a pasture in Butts County, Ga.

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A farmer uses his tractor to bushhog a pasture in Butts County, Ga. Download Image
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