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Agricultural News

Mizzou’s Dr. Sarah Low Encourages Rural Communities to Think Creatively, Strategically to Survive Tough Economic Climate

Thu, 10 Oct 2019 04:18:52 CDT

Mizzou’s Dr. Sarah Low Encourages Rural Communities to Think Creatively, Strategically to Survive Tough Economic Climate Dr. Sarah Low is an associate professor of regional economics and holds the Fred. V. Heinkel Chair in Agriculture within the Division of Applied Social Sciences at the University of Missouri and is also director of MU Extension’s Community Economic and Entrepreneurial Development program. Low’s research interests revolve around rural economic development—motivated in part by her upbringing in both rural Iowa and rural Scotland. Her current research focuses on rural entrepreneurship and innovation, food manufacturing dynamics, the relationship between financial capital availability and rural firm survival, and the impact of broadband access on rural entrepreneurs.

Recently, Low presented at the Oklahoma Rural Economic Outlook Conference hosted by Oklahoma State University, during which she spoke with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays about her research. According to her, as the American economy continues to transition from being product-based to service-based, rural citizens and business-owners are struggling to remain viable.

“There are definitely some challenges in rural America,” she said citing the challenges facing commodity markets and the rural economy. “And really, the non-farm economy is facing a lot of challenges too- also rooted in uncertainty in the economy.”

Low says the rural areas that are prospering and creating wealth are doing so based on natural assets in those communities. It is unfortunate, she says, that the answer to fixing this problem is not a one-size fits all situation. Instead, she contends that each individual community must come together and creatively identify what they can offer the economy.

“We’ve got to get leadership from the public and private sector in these rural regions and get them talking together so they can identify assets and opportunities and prioritize their efforts in a strategic way,” she said. “I think each community has to begin with their local leadership. They have to do some strategic planning and think about their local assets and what’s a reasonable goal and figure out how they can have some short-term wins to get them moving towards some longer-term wins.”

Low joined MU in 2018 after 10 years at USDA’s Economic Research Service in Washington DC, where she served a 6-month detail with the Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Secretary. Low previously worked at the Center for the Study of Rural America at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. She holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Consumer Economics from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, a M.S. in Agricultural Economics from Purdue, and a B.S. in Public Service and Administration in Agriculture from Iowa State.

Listen to Low’s full exchange with Ron Hays to hear more of her thoughts on how rural communities can work to overcome the current difficulties in today’s economic climate, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below.



Ron Hays talks with Sarah Low on the sidelines of the Okla Rural Economic Outlook Conference
right-click to download mp3


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