Division News

The Mizzou National Agricultural Marketing Association Competition Team was one of six winners in the National Agricultural Marketing Association Executive Summary competition for 2020, and won the Membership Recruitment Award for their efforts to increase membership in 2019. Annette Kendall, who graduated with a PhD in Agricultural and Applied Economics in 2019 and now serves as Assistant Teaching Professor and Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Trulaske College of Business, is the NAMA advisor.

Allie Lock and Regan Ragsdale, both juniors studying Agribusiness Management, received $1,000 Scholarships from the National Agricultural Marketing Association Foundation.

Melody Muldrow, PhD Candidate in agricultural and applied economics, has been awarded the George Washington Carver Fellowship for Doctoral Studies from the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Office of Research.

The FARM360 staff released the April edition of the e-newsletter this week. It covers news such as efforts to combat food insecurity during COVID-19, Missouri hemp production, and the 2020 flood forecast. Elizabeth Wyss serves as the supervisor.

Director’s Updates & Engagements

While Alice Roach is on assignment leading the Division’s Engaging 4 MO webinar series, I want to thank Amy Moum for assuming leadership over the creation of the Divisional Wrap-up and Facebook postings. Speaking of Engaging 4 MO webinars, since the start of the webinars on March 23, 1190 registrants have joined across the fourteen webinars. Originally intended to be held once per month, in response to the COVID19 pandemic the Division quickly shifted the schedule to multiple webinars per week to assure timely information outflow. The schedule is generally booked out three weeks in advance and will move to a W-F only offering starting in May.

I want to thank Kyle Flinn and his team for allowing the Division to integrate the Wrap-up and Engaging 4 MO mailing through dotmailer in dotdigital, an MU Extension product.

Research, Extension & Engagement Activities

The MU News Bureau recently interviewed Scott Brown to discuss challenges in the agricultural economy related to demand, the workforce and widespread uncertainty in the face of COVID-19.

Scott Brown comments on the closure of a JBS USA beef-packing plant in Greeley, CO in the April 14, 2020 Agri-Pulse Daybreak broadcast.

B. James Deaton, Brady J. Deaton. 2020. “Food security and Canada’s agricultural system challenged by COVID‐19.” Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics.

The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute released its COVID-19 impacts on ag markets report on April 13, 2020. Farm Policy News shared key charts from the report. Numerous outlets have covered the report’s release, including Agri-Pulse, the Food InstituteRFD-TV, and the California Department of Agriculture.

Mary Hendrickson comments on COVID-19’s disruption to the food supply chain in Inside Climate News.

For Fern’s Ag Insider, Seth Meyer comments on the April WASDE report.

For Fern’s Ag Insider, Pat Westhoff comments on falling farm income in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and discusses longer-term impacts of a recession on farm prices.

On Agri-Talk, Pat Westhoff discusses early estimates of the impacts of COVID-19 on U.S. ag commodity markets, farm income and government outlays.

Pat Westhoff titled his latest Columbia Daily Tribune column as “Putting some numbers to COVID-19 impacts on the farm sector.

Six-Month Snapshot

The “Six-Month Snapshot” highlights faculty’s planned research, teaching, extension, engagement and service activities for the next six months. By sharing this information, the intent is to enable divisional faculty to learn about one another and identify opportunities to collaborate.

All faculty will receive an invitation to contribute in an upcoming issue. In this issue, we feature Mary Hendrickson and Harvey James.

Mary Hendrickson
Associate Professor
Rural Sociology

What are the top three focuses of your research program?
My research agenda for the next few years focuses on food system resilience and transformation, which seems especially germane in the coming months. First, I am collaborating with a colleague at Ohio State on thinking about the social infrastructure necessary for resilience in the food system, and particularly resilience in rural areas. Resilience is really important in every part of the food system – from producers being able to farm agroecologically to communities being food secure.

This is connected with my second strand of research on understanding the “undocumented” aspect of rural food systems, e.g. how locally produced foods move outside of more formalized market channels like farmers’ markets and selling to wholesalers. For instance, some research that I did a few years ago, and that was complemented by Sarah Massengale’s dissertation work, showed some tantalizing signs of self-provisioning through hunting, foraging, gardening and keeping animals, but also locally produced foods that were gifted or traded through social networks such as family, neighbors or social groups like churches. I don’t think we understand that very well, and it could have important implications for rural development and resilience, especially in light of current food system transformations.

A third food system issue I’m working on with Harvey James is trying to provide a framework that can examine fairness in agricultural markets, especially from a producer standpoint, and what that could mean for agricultural policies such as contracts or antitrust.

What collaborators would enhance your research efforts?
I never do anything alone, but am always collaborating with DASS colleagues, colleagues across campus, or within the Agriculture of the Middle multi-state research project.

How do you plan to share about your research findings?
Most research is destined for journal articles, but I also try to feed it into work that my extension colleagues are doing across the state. I maintain close connections with a number of farmer groups, both those who participate in alternative food systems like farmers’ markets, and those who are part of commodity agriculture, as well as with a lot of non-profits groups who are working on local and regional food systems and the policies that would help create and strengthen such systems.

What changes do you plan to make to the course(s) you teach?
I am just finishing up a Fulbright teaching stint in Iceland. I was very impressed with the Agricultural University of Iceland’s work on environmental sustainability and how they have tried to incorporate that into their curriculum for both their bachelor and associate degree programs in agriculture. But it was also fascinating to be a member of a faculty with few other social scientists! I had great support and found it both exciting and challenging to bring North American concepts of sustainable agriculture and food systems to bear in a very different context.

I’m making a lot of changes in the coming years in teaching. First, I volunteered to teach Rural Sociology 1000, which I haven’t taught for over 20 years. I’m excited about it, and of course worried about it – especially as the pandemic is impacting how we deliver courses. I am planning on orienting the class around sustainability and rural sociology which is pretty exciting to me.

In the past two years I have worked with graduate students who developed and piloted a course on understanding race, class and gender dynamics in food systems. One of the cool things we did with the course in Fall 2019 was to partner with two Columbia food non-profits on developing materials that they could use in their programming. It was a great way for students to apply concepts from class as well as to learn how to work with community groups in partnership. This course has been offered as a junior-level honors seminar and has attracted interest in agriculture and food system issues, which I think is great. I hope to make this a permanent course at the university.

What engagement activities do you have planned?
I spend time working with farmer and community groups as part of my scholarly grounding in food systems. I just finished a term of service as a board member of a North Carolina non-profit working of connecting food and farming issues with faith-based communities. This year, I’m serving on the National Design Team for an upcoming conference, “The Power of Food: Cultivating Equitable Policy Through Collective Action,” which will take place in Kansas City sometime in 2021 – it was supposed to be November 2020 but the pandemic has changed a lot of things. I’m working with Bill McKelvey and Steve Jeanetta to support some aspects of the Missouri EATS program. I’m the Associate Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security and we will be continuing to highlight the Missouri Hunger Atlas, as well as planning for how to showcase that work on a continuing basis to have broader impact across Missouri.

Harvey James
Agricultural and Applied Economics

What goals do you have set for your research program?
My research efforts focus on issues relating to ethics and fairness, with particular applications in the agrifood industry. I publish conceptual as well as empirical research. I like using the World Values Survey. Thanks to my colleagues in rural sociology, I have gained an appreciation for empirical work that involves talking to people.

What are the top three focuses of your research program?
One focus relates to ethics and fairness. Mary Hendrickson and I, along with PhD student Christine Sanders, developed a framework for assessing claims of unfairness. We have published several papers on the topic. Currently we are adapting the framework to evaluate concerns farmers have about Dicamba drift. A second focus utilizes data from the World Values Survey to explore correlates of ethical judgments. I just finished two papers. One links fairness perceptions to ethical judgments (the results are counter-intuitive), and the other, co-authored with my PhD student Damilola Giwa-Daramola, shows how family structure and functioning affect ethical judgments. A third focus, which I have just begun, uses principles from behavioral economics and behavioral ethics to understand the incidence of foodborne illness outbreaks and, relatedly, responses people have to pandemics. Michelle Segovia and I just completed a paper on the topic. In addition to these topics I have other projects in the works with former visiting scholars from the Ukraine and China. I am also working on an edited book called Handbook on the Human Impact of Agriculture that should be completed by the end of the year.

What projects do you have planned for students in the course(s) you teach?
I often use object lessons in my classes that involve students doing things. For example, in my microeconomics class I auction donuts to show how rules affect incentives and behavior; I conduct a boy-girl matchmaking activity that demonstrates how markets set prices; and I have teams build and throw paper airplanes to illustrate basic principles of production (yes, students actually get to throw paper airplanes in class). In my ethics class students create video documentaries on various ethics topics. They post the videos on YouTube, and we take a class period to watch them together. If you search for “MU agricultural ethics” in YouTube you can find these videos. Some are good, others not so. A 2014 video on pesticides has over 18,000 views.

What service activities do you have planned?
I have been Director of Graduate Studies for a long time. I enjoy the role and the opportunity it gives me to work closely with graduate students. I continue to serve as chair of the CAFNR promotion and tenure committee. I am also a member of the University’s Faculty Council. I recently ended a 13-year tenure as editor-in-chief of Agriculture and Human Values, but I still serve on editorial boards of four journals (Academy of Management PerspectivesAgriculture and Human ValuesJournal of Business Ethics; and Sustainability).

Industry News to Know

Last week, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City released its latest Ag Finance Databook, which tracks trends in farm lending.

On its website, The Food Industry Association has a State Issues Crisis Tracker tool designed to monitor how states have adjusted policies relevant to the food industry during the coronavirus pandemic.

Submit Your News

If you have information to share in the DASS Wrap-Up, then please send your news items to Amy Moum or Joe Parcell.