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MISSISSIPPI PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES SUPPORT STATE'S AGRIBUSINESS SECTOR

12/11/2020 - Jackson, Miss.

The agribusiness sector in Mississippi plays an important role in Mississippi's economy. From those who grow the crops, timber and other commodities to those who work in processing plants, many Mississippians depend on the agribusiness sector for their livelihoods. The sector impacts many more across the state, throughout the country and around the world through the food served to families and many other products used every day. Mississippi Public Universities support the agribusiness sector through academic programs, research initiatives, and outreach efforts.

Alcorn State University's School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences promotes excellence through teaching, research, and extension to its students and the communities it serves. The School's active programs engage students in basic and applied research while stimulating intellectual development and lifelong learning. The program's curriculum extends far beyond its agricultural and mechanical focused origins to include human sciences, robotics and automation, global programs, biotechnology, and more. Under the leadership of Dr. Edmund Buckner, dean and director of Land-Grant Programs, the School is moving forward with a strategy that considers the ever-changing landscape of agriculture, builds on strengths to innovate, and prepares the world's next generation of Agriculturalists. The university remains a leader in agricultural education, annually conferring degrees in agribusiness management, agricultural economics, agricultural science, and much more.

Delta State University is the Mississippi public university that offers a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science. Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary and integrated science that embraces biological, chemical, and physical aspects of the environment and their effect on organisms. Delta State's program offers four concentrations: General Environmental Science, Wildlife Management, and Geospatial Information Technology and Agribusiness. The Agribusiness concentration blends courses associated with Environmental Science and General Business and offers students the opportunity to select their emphasis.

Jackson State University's Center for University-Based Development partnered with Blackburn Middle School to hold a Farmer's Market with produce from the middle school's community garden. The collaboration shows students how to grow and sell vegetables to inspire entrepreneurship. For six years, JSU has partnered with the Society of St. Andrew to distribute more than 20,000 pounds of free sweet potatoes to the community for the annual Crop Drop event. In prior years, the JSU Center for University-Based Development has also provided fresh vegetables and watermelons during this event or individuals in the community.

Mississippi State University's Division of Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine supports agricultural producers, as well as agribusinesses and foresters. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Forest Resources offer degrees for aspiring producers and industry professionals. With more than 3,700 students, the division had its highest enrollment ever in fall 2020. The Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station partners with row-crop commodity boards, including corn, soybean, rice, peanut, and cotton, to research ways to increase yields and profits while decreasing inputs. MSU Extension Service agricultural economists offer budget tools, insurance information, and marketing plans to professionals and residents considering agribusiness services. Extension's agritourism resources include business tools and explanations of applicable state laws. Up-to-date information for agribusinesses is available on Extension's "Building a Vibrant Community" podcast.

The National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi discovers and develops natural products for use as pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements, and agrochemicals. The USDA Agricultural Research Service Natural Products Utilization Research Unit, co-located with NCNPR, develops natural products for use in agriculture to produce more toxicologically and environmentally benign pest management tools and to improve the nutraceutical value of crops. Additionally, with decades of experience in cannabis research, product development, and quality assessment of botanical products, NCNPR is poised to contribute an important role in education and training related to recent developments in state cannabis regulations and hemp cultivation.

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is leading oyster restoration efforts along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and beyond. USM will soon operate a new oyster hatchery and research center at USM's Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, Miss., funded by a $7.62 million RESTORE Act grant administered by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. The facility will enable USM researchers to produce oysters to restore oyster reefs in the Mississippi Sound, which were damaged by Hurricane Katrina, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and freshwater inundation from repeated openings of the Bonnet Carré Spillway. The facility will also provide aquaculture farmers with a reliable source of juvenile oysters to raise for local seafood restaurants and markets.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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