Business education is aim of proposed national center
The land-grant university systems and federal agency grant programs have pretty much bypassed serving commercial producers except in the pure science areas. Academic research in agricultural economics and agribusiness is almost completely oriented toward publishing in academic journals.
To that end, Texas A&M University has started a capital campaign to develop a National Center for Strategic Management in Commercial Agriculture. Strategic management means anticipating, adapting to, driving and having the ability to capitalize on change in an increasingly volatile market and production environment.
The campaign is necessary now because agriculture is becoming more competitive, global and vertically-coordinated. It is increasingly driven by technology, burdened by regulations and driven by consumers and social media.
In 10 years, 5% of the farms in the U.S. will produce 80% of the country’s total agricultural output. They will be operations oriented around best business practices and continuous improvement.
Gaps To Fill. At land-grant universities, it's often the case that undergraduate teaching programs don’t address the areas of most value to students who plan to return to farming or ranching.
Although several universities have excellent websites, most agricultural economics departments lack the critical mass of faculty focused on the most important and emerging areas of importance in farm business.
As a result, few universities have the resources to focus on applied research in strategic decision-making, important undergraduate courses and in-depth continuing education and Extension programs that target commercial producers’ increasingly specialized needs.
A few exceptions include the University of Minnesota’s Center for Farm Financial Management and Purdue University’s Center for Commercial Agriculture.
The Way Forward. That is the need the new National Center for Strategic Management in Commercial Agriculture aims to address. Never forget, it is an economic reality that for your business to succeed and continue successfully into the future, your management team must learn, adapt and continuously improve at the rate set by the leading edge of your competition, not your own comfort zone. Otherwise, you’ll fall behind, even if you’re moving ahead.
As ag economists Mike Boehlje of Purdue University and Dave Kohl of Virginia Tech University say, “Get better before you get bigger.”
Classes And Research Producers Need
The national ag center would provide courses and applied research about:
- strategic management
- human resource management and development
- alternative business arrangements
- negotiation skills
- macroeconomics and global geopolitics
- practical cost and managerial accounting
- integrated risk management strategies and decision tools
- operations management and process improvement
- alternative financing strategies and financial analysis
- creative thinking and innovation
- coordinated supply chains