Extension Ag Update
May/June 2001
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What Is Entrepreneurship?

Recently, Illinois Extension initiated a novel new project called the Agricultural Entrepreneur Development Initiative. This project seeks to promote the development of entrepreneurial activity in agriculture. The word entrepreneurship literally means, "to take or carry between" in the sense of an economic transaction; to be a market-maker. It does not literally convey the notion of innovation that we commonly associate with the term. Joseph Schumpeer (1883-1950), one of the more well known theorists on entrepreneurship, defined an entrepreneur as one who reorganizes economic activity in an innovative and valuable way. That is, an entrepreneur is one who engages in a new economic activity that was previously unknown. An entrepreneur is a risk taker because being innovative means there are few rules or history for guidance.

This definition has great application to modern agriculture as producers are searching for new ways to increase their incomes. Commodity markets in recent years have failed to provide the typical Midwest producer with a proper return on investment. No matter how hard producers attempt to reduce costs and improve efficiency they can’t seem to get ahead. This has forced many in agriculture to look for new business models that allow for greater value creation and most importantly greater value capture. If you would like more information on this topic, please contact Dr. Peter Goldsmith at: pgoldsmi@uiuc.edu or contact Dan Beccue for assistance in evaluating options for your farming system.

The Ag Entrepreneurship website is http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/iidea/index.html.