A group of Southern land-grant university Extension economists have introduced a new digital platform to provide clear and concise insights and analyses on important issues relating to production agriculture and agribusiness in the South.
The free platform, called Southern Ag Today, was launched on June 1 after a months-long collaboration between 13 Southern Extension programs with support from the Southern Extension Economics Committee, the Agricultural and Food Policy Center, AFPC, at Texas A&M and the Southern Risk Management Education Center at the University of Arkansas.
For more information and to sign up, go to https://southernagtoday.org.
“The platform’s main objective is to offer valuable, up-to-date analysis of the various challenges facing Southern agriculture,” said Joe Outlaw, Ph.D., AFPC co-director, Bryan-College Station.
Outlaw said those who sign up for the free resource will receive a daily email with one short, concise article on a topic of interest to agricultural producers and those involved in agribusiness in the South.
“Platform content is produced with the farmer and the policymaker in mind,” he said.
All of these articles will be archived on the Southern Ag Today website.
“These groups have demanding schedules and limited time,” Outlaw said. “The platform’s content is intended to provide quick, impactful analysis and context on a given topic to help these groups make well-informed decisions.”
Southern Ag Today follows a set schedule each week and includes information on crop marketing, livestock marketing, farm management, agricultural policy, trade and agricultural law.
A field of Texas cotton. While Southern Ag Today content will focus on crops primarily grown in the South, it will have a broader application. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)
“The content is focused on the South but has broad applicability,” said Bart Fischer, Ph.D., AFPC co-director, Bryan-College Station.
The resource currently contains about 400 articles written by more than 120 authors – all Extension agricultural economists from various Southern land-grant universities.
Some of the articles already available on the platform address starting a cooperative, grass-fed beef prices, sorghum production expectations, foreign investment in agricultural land, the farm bill, hog prices, rice yields and the corn supply. In general, the articles on the platform address a wide range of agricultural topics.
“To our knowledge, this is the only resource of its kind that covers the entire Southern agricultural region in depth, bringing together the diverse voices of numerous contributors,” Fischer said. “We will not be chasing headlines. Instead, we will provide timely, thoughtful analysis beyond merely reporting the news.”
However, he said, the resource will have the flexibility to address more immediately pressing issues such as the status of the farm bill and other high-profile issues.
“At the moment, there’s a lot of activity in Washington, D.C., relating to the farm bill, as the 2018 Farm Bill expires on Sept. 30,” Fischer said. “We know producers in the South, as well as other parts of the country, are tracking farm bill reauthorization very closely.”
Fischer said developing the Southern Ag Today platform has been a significant undertaking, and the resource has the potential to be an essential go-to site for information on a wide range of agricultural topics.
Platform audience and expansion
Platform creators said Southern Ag Today will be a helpful source of information for all Southern producers, including underserved and socially disadvantaged farmers.
“Farmers of every size and background across the South continue to adapt to the challenging agriculture environment,” said Ron Rainey, Ph.D., director of the Southern Risk Management Education Center. “We hope Southern Ag Today will be a valuable tool for all Southern producers, including socially disadvantaged, small and beginning farmers, to obtain the information they need to feel more confident in making important operational decisions.”
The long-term vision of the platform is to expand content to include webinars, podcasts and video production and to develop a greater social media presence. Source : tamu.edu