In today’s economic news, agriculture is taking over the headlines. Trade disputes have farmers and ranchers uncertain about the future of their businesses, but one small group of people specializing in complex agriculture economics are working to keep up with the fast-paced markets.
Growing food takes more than just putting a seed in the ground and watching it grow, according to Ryan Larson, a Utah State University Extension economist. Understanding trade and markets are what makes or breaks a successful farmer.
“I think in today’s world it’s vital,” Larsen said. “My Dad would always say that driving the tractor is the easy part of farming. The business side is key and I agree with that 100 percent. In today’s world, if you don’t understand the business aspect of what you are doing whether you’re a crop marketing specialists, agronomist, or you run your own ranch or farm – you’ve got to understand the financial side.”
Agriculture economists like Larson help growers navigate complex markets, but as US farmers work to export commodities to new countries and lawmakers negotiate new trade deals, more economists with an understanding of agriculture are needed.
Students who are studying agriculture economics and business agree. Jaycie Crockett moved from Missouri to Logan to pursue a degree in agribusiness.
“We got to do case studies throughout the year of real-life situations,” Crockett said. “We got to use real numbers, real situations, real scenarios.”
Chase Westwood graduated from USU’s agribusiness program this spring. He said understanding the finances and economics of agriculture is helping him run his own cattle operation.
“It was a great opportunity to see where the rubber hits the road as far as ag lending goes,” Westwood said. “A lot of classes make you book smart, but they really don’t teach you what happens in the real world.”
Agriculture is changing fast to keep up with ever-changing markets and Westwood said young economists and farmers need to be prepared to keep up.