Thursday, June 6, 2019

AAEA Member Blog: Mykel Taylor

Mykel Taylor, Kansas State University | Choices Theme Organizer | June 6, 2019

The field of Farm Management Extension has been a mainstay of applied and agricultural economists for decades. Today it holds unique challenges and opportunities for economists. New technologies affect both our stakeholders and how we communicate with them, making it imperative to embrace these technological advances while still applying sound analysis to assess their impact. Additionally, our audiences are changing as farmers require information at a faster pace and filtered through an objective lens.

As noted by Langemeier and Shockley, “There is still demand for traditional extension meetings. However, many of the topics that will need to be addressed, due to the complexity of the topics and time needed to learn the concepts, are better suited to workshops spread over several weeks, webinars, and distance education. The nature of the topics places a premium on programs that extend beyond state boundaries, and the involvement of multiple economists with various specialty areas.” This demonstrates how universities will need to work together to meet the demands of stakeholders.

Part of meeting these evolving needs of the field is recruitment and training of new extension specialists. More and more our candidate pools are not comprised of people with a U.S. agricultural background. How we grow those candidate pools with diversity and extension-ready skills will determine our success in meeting the latest evolution in farm management.  Getting students on the grad school track toward a career in extension economics begins with attracting them to the profession. Often, those students ask about real world application of economics. “Look no further than extension economists to showcase real world economics that impacts private decisions and public policy,” observe Lawrence, Hadley, and Henderson.

If we can recognize the changes occurring in our profession and among the stakeholders we serve, then we can be successful going forward with our educational efforts. Farm management extension economics is just as vital a part of our profession as it ever was and this most recent edition of Choices Magazine challenges readers to think of creative ways that they might help their universities move forward to serve a dynamic agriculture industry. 

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