COLUMBIA — The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service has hired two agricultural economists to buoy the expansion of an agribusiness assistance program at the university’s Sandhill Research and Education Center (REC) in Columbia.

“Our goal is to get more people into agriculture and help our existing farmers make a great living and be productive for South Carolina,” said Sandhill REC Director Kathy Coleman. “We have hired two of the best and our plan is to continue to recruit top-quality agribusiness Extension specialists to come to Clemson to build our team.”

The university intends to hire three additional agricultural economists to join newly hired economists Nathan Smith and Adam Kantrovich.

In addition to hiring more agribusiness specialists, the Sandhill REC launched a farm incubator program to help aspiring entrepreneurs hatch successful careers in agriculture. Also at Sandhill, Extension specialist Dave Lamie is leading a series of educational workshops as part of the S.C. New and Beginning Farmer program that helps entrepreneurs craft fruitful business plans.

The added assistance to farmers and entrepreneurs is available through an investment by the state. Agribusiness and forestry represents the state’s top industry, with economic output of $41.7 billion and employment exceeding 200,000.

Nathan Smith

Nathan Smith

Smith joined the team in December. A Clemson University alumnus with advanced degrees from Auburn University and the University of Kentucky, Smith spent the past 15 years advising Southeastern growers while working at the University of Georgia. He has worked with the nationwide Cooperative Extension Service since 1996.

Smith is an expert in federal agriculture policy and will assist South Carolina growers with navigating the 2014 Farm Bill. He also will emphasize his educational efforts on production costs, crop marketing and risk-management analysis to help growers reduce expenses and increase revenues.

Smith is a member of the American Agricultural Economics Association, the Southern Agricultural Economics Association, the American Peanut Research and Education Society, the National Association of County Agricultural Agents and the Southern Extension Economics Committee.

Smith has received numerous awards, including the 2015 State Extension Award from the Georgia-Florida Soybean Association and the 2015 Georgia Peanut Research and Education Award from the Georgia Peanut Commission.

Adam Kantrovich

Adam Kantrovich

Clemson also has hired Kantrovich as an agricultural economist. He starts this spring. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southern Illinois University and received a doctorate in agricultural education from Virginia Tech. He currently works as a farm management educator at Michigan State University Extension and has taught numerous courses in agriculture throughout his career. Kantrovich is an expert in farm financial management, farm succession, labor issues and policy, and he speaks nationally about compliance of the Affordable Care Act for agriculture employers.

A frequent speaker and author of education papers and other publications, Kantrovich is a member of the American Association for Agricultural Education Research and chairman of the Holland CTC Agricultural Education Program advisory board.