Farmer and food business resources

Getting food from the farm to the table requires a diverse range of food-related businesses — farmers, processors, distributors, restaurants, stores and much more. MU Extension provides a variety of resources and programs designed to help farmers strengthen and diversify their farming operations, support business planning and development for food businesses, encourage market and cooperative development, and promote fresh, healthy food options. On this page are resources to assist your farm and business at all levels of the food system, from local to global.

See below for more specific resources related to the following food system tiers: home production, direct from farmer, regional partners and markets, and national and global markets.

General information on food systems

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass
Case studies, research and information on USDA grants, loans and programs that can help local food system participants; describes the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food program developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support local and regional food systems 

Mizzou Advantage Food for the Future

MU Extension Missouri Beginning Farmer Project
Information, resources and a blog for new farmers

St. Louis Healthy Corner Store Project
Information about the project; a free guide for retailers on food safety, handling and storage; and links to other resources

Stock Healthy, Shop Healthy

MU Extension publication MP908, Seasonal Fruits and Vegetable Poster (

University of Minnesota Extension Community and Local Foods Resources (

Virginia Cooperative Extension (Virginia State University)

Home production: Tier 0

Home and community gardening

MU Extension Soil Testing Laboratory
MU Extension offices across the state accept soil samples for analysis, and horticulture specialists located in county offices can advise you on amending your soil based on the test results. Contact your local MU Extension office ( for soil testing help.

Missouri Environment and Garden newsletter (

Direct from farmer: Tier 1

Direct marketing

MU Extension publications:

Missouri Beginning Farmers website

Missouri Beginning Farming blog

Farmers markets

MU Extension publications:

AgriMissouri Farmers Market Handbook (PDF)
A guide to creating and managing farmers markets and the laws and regulations that govern them


Crop Planning for Community Supported Agriculture
Blog article from the Start Farming blog, provided by Pennsylvania State University Extension

Missouri Crop Resource Guide (

MU Extension publications:


Missouri direct marketing food safety and tax requirements (

Regional partners and markets: Tier 2

Moving food to institutions

Missouri Farm to School Project
Success stories on school food systems in Missouri that are incorporating locally produced food; tools from around the country to help initiate farm to school programs; results from a 2010 survey of school food directors

Missouri Farm to School Resource Guide (PDF)
Resource guide for school food service directors and farmers that includes tips on procurement and managing bids

Local Producer Lead List
List of distributors, producers and food service organizations in Missouri compiled on the MU Agricultral Electronic Bulletin Board (not a comprehensive list)

Food safety

Cornell University Good Agricultural Practices Network for Education and Training
Good agricultural practices

Local Food Safety Resources
Webinar and resources available from MU Extension through the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program

Aggregation and distribution

Moving Food Along the Value Chain: Innovations in Regional Food Distribution
U.S. Department of Agriculture publication describing eight  innovative regional food distribution models, including lessons learned and best practices

Innovative Models: Small Grower and Retailer Collaborations
Wallace Center at Winrock International publication describing key lessons for successful retail partnerships

Building Successful Food Hubs: A Business Planning Guide for Aggregating and Processing Local Food in Illinois (PDF)
Guide from that describes key functions, best practices and how-to strategies for food hub establishment and operation that are based on successful models and adapted for Illinois

Regional Produce Supply Chains
Resource details significant systemic issues to consider and potential solutions for building produce supply chains regionally.  Issues in produce supply chains from key stakeholder groups including farmers, aggregators, wholesalers and retailers.  Provides a focus for farmers in the Agriculture of the Middle.

Food entrepreneurship

Information to connect consumers looking for locally produced agricultural and food products with Missouri farmers and producers; AgriMissouri is a Missouri Department of Agriculture outreach program

National and global markets: Tiers 3 and 4

The business models used by companies within Tiers 3 and 4 can be more challenging for smaller, independent agricultural producers to easily identify how they might participate in these levels of aggregation and distribution.

Many resources for producers interested in these tiers are available through the MU Extension Agriculture program, including these MU Extension publications:

MU Extension publications:

MU Extension Horticulture Website (

Missouri Agrability Program (

Missouri Crop Resource Guide (

USDA new farmers
This USDA website is a one-stop shop for new and beginning farmers entering agriculture. The site features direct links to USDA programs and services as well as case studies about how USDA support is being put to work to for America’s agriculture future.