ISDA Director Bruce Kettler is seen here during a tour of Indiana’s hardwoods industry. (IIB photo/Wes Mills)

Agriculture is big business in Indiana, measuring more than $31 billion in cash receipts each year. But there is a new effort to support small businesses and entrepreneurs that want to take advantage of the agricultural sector. The state Tuesday announced the launch of the Agribusiness Initiative.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Bruce Kettler explained the program will be able to help producers that may be looking for new opportunities.

“There are resources that these companies want, and these companies need. In some cases, it could go from a farmer that’s looking for a way to maybe take a crop or livestock that they’re producing and figure out a way to be able to get into new markets,” said Kettler. “That’s what we can do.”

The ISDA is partnering with the Indiana Small Business Development Center, Purdue Center for Regional Development, and Purdue Extension to launch the effort. The partners say the initiative will help businesses that range from producers and processors of agricultural commodities to manufacturers of value-added products.

Kettler says the economic disruption of the pandemic and the assorted challenges has also led to innovation and business opportunities.

“I think anybody that’s looking to become an entrepreneur or is growing and expanding a business that’s already there, sometimes those difficult times. Sometimes those things that squeeze a business forces us into looking at innovation and finding ways to do it better to do it quicker to do it more efficiently,” said Kettler.

The program will offer a variety of business advice and training, product development and access to U.S. Department of Agriculture loans. The organization says Indiana’s agricultural prowess is also driving exploration, experimentation and innovation.

“Entrepreneurs and small businesses are fundamental to the future growth and sustainability of communities across the state, and this partnership will focus on providing small Hoosier agribusinesses with the tools, resources and training they need to start, grow and innovate,” said David Watkins, Indiana SBDC state director and Indiana Economic Development Corporation vice president of small business.

The Purdue partners will offer their combined expertise, research, and outreach efforts to help drive the Indiana SBDC’s goals to better serve developing agribusinesses and farms.

“Over the past few decades, the needs of Hoosier agribusinesses have rapidly evolved,” said Bruce Kettler, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. “This initiative recognizes the critical role agribusinesses, supply networks and distribution channels play in helping to ensure a strong Indiana economy.”

Click here to learn more about the Agribusiness Initiative.