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New Research Economist Will Enhance Ag Division's R & D Projects

Posted Jan. 1, 2006

I consider it an honor and privilege to write and deliver my first NF Ag News and Views article to those of you who live and work within the agricultural community. As a recently hired employee of the Noble Research Institute, I want to take this opportunity to inform our readers about my responsibilities here in the Agricultural Division and how those responsibilities have been designed to benefit agricultural producers and the agricultural community as a whole.

In 2005, the Agricultural Division created a consulting support research and development team tasked with designing, implementing and interpreting the Agricultural Division's research and demonstration projects and activities. In addition, this team and other research specialists in the Agricultural Division will lend expertise to scientists in the Foundation's Plant Biology and Forage Improvement divisions by providing them with research support and farm-related services in an effort to help bring forth on-farm testing of Foundation-developed alternative technologies, biotechnologies and production systems.

As most of you already know, the Foundation has a long history of developing and testing alternative production systems and technologies that enhance the well-being of the production agriculture sector and the lives of those involved in it. More importantly, the Foundation has an impeccable reputation for its ability to recognize that these alternative systems and technologies need to be economically feasible if they are to provide any benefit to farmers and ranchers who are expected to adopt them. My responsibility as a research economist is to provide economic and statistical orientation and support to Agricultural Division and interdivisional research and demonstration activities.

Oftentimes, new technologies, biotechnologies and production systems for agriculture are developed in laboratories, greenhouses and on small test plots. However, before these technologies can be recommended to producers for adoption, they must be tested in controlled, randomized experiments that are conducted on the farm and over time to determine their overall feasibility. Therefore, it is my job to help our scientists and specialists design experiments that will provide the necessary data useful in determining the economic feasibility of these alternative systems and technologies. Once data are collected and analyzed, I must then convey the results to the consulting teams so they can relay that information to the producers who ultimately use it to make informed decisions regarding how best to use their resources.

Identifying the economic linkages that support the agricultural infrastructure (both input and output linkages) is also important to the success and survival of farmers and ranchers operating in an ever-changing agricultural production sector. Changes in the world, nation and region continue to have implications for the survival of this business and those businesses that support farmers and ranchers. Therefore, keeping a close eye on macroeconomic variables such as unemployment and inflation is an important task. It is also key to identify any trends or structural changes in the economy and to analyze how these trends and changes affect those who produce food and agricultural commodities in our community.

The Foundation is committed to maintaining the reputation it has earned over the past 60 years by continuing to provide useful and relevant information to farmers and ranchers in our community. To that end, it is our responsibility to seek out and access any and all experts and specialists from our nation's universities, colleges, government institutions, industries, farms and ranches to ensure that the very best research experiments, programs and demonstration activities are employed in order to obtain optimum economic information that will help those who work and live in our great agricultural community make better decisions regarding the best way to use their resources.