WERA72: Agribusiness Scholarship Emphasizing Competitiveness
(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)
WERA72: Agribusiness Scholarship Emphasizing Competitiveness
Duration: 10/01/2019 to 09/30/2024
Statement of Issues and Justification
The term Agribusiness is often defined as the study of economic and managerial problems as they pertain to the global food, fiber, fuel and feed system, including both private strategies and public policies . Agribusiness is a complex system of interrelated actors, functions and institutions. These actors include agricultural producers, input suppliers and the firms that provide functional aspects associated with creating, communicating and delivering value to consumers in the form of food, fiber, fuel and feed. Key functions performed by agents include exchange, processing, storage and transportation, as well as facilitating functions that are provided through market information transfer, risk management and financial services that allow agribusinesses to operate along different marketing channels. Finally, institutions, such as markets and government agencies and policies, play an important role in agribusiness and agricultural supply chain formation and operation.
The WERA-72 Coordinating Committee plays a key role in facilitating, promoting and advancing agribusiness scholarship by providing an educational, research and extension forum for focusing on fundamental and key issues in agribusiness. Agribusiness scholarship is defined as the creation of knowledge that explains, solves and provides options for agribusiness, and it is fundamental to the future of agribusiness. This scholarship can take many forms, including: (i) quantitative and qualitative research the utilizes methodologies that pull from economic, management, finance and marketing theories to understand and provide solutions for key issues facing agribusiness, while taking into account the interrelated and interconnected nature of the agribusiness system; (ii) development, assessment and delivery of educational materials and teaching scholarship as it applies to agribusiness curricula (e.g. role of technology in education, instructional design, effectiveness of teaching pedagogies); and (iii) the development and implementation of industry outreach and extension programs that target managers, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in the agribusiness sector.
Agribusiness continues to undergo rapid and expansive changes. These changes and issues relate to business competitiveness, strategic management, industrial organization, international trade, evaluation of business performance, analysis of consumer preferences, food security, energy security, agricultural industrialization, transportation and logistics, supply chain management, traceability, food protection, and public policy as they pertain to the global food system. The academy must address and help agribusinesses adapt to these changes. These changes impact the research, teaching and extension efforts that must be undertaken in the academy to assist agribusiness to thrive in the future. WERA-72 provides a forum for these changes to be communicated, discussed, disseminated and evaluated. There exists a strong need to continue to tackle relevant agribusiness issues and pursue agribusiness scholarship that meets the needs of stakeholders, including:
- Agribusiness Research: The future of agribusiness research scholarship must be centered on the relevant and key issues facing agribusinesses. These issues include access, use and analysis of Big Data, as well as related privacy, legal and methodological issues; traceability and block chains; food and energy security; land and water management under varying climates and weather; responses of input and output markets to price changes and non-market factors; competitiveness, efficiency and productivity of agricultural firms; consolidation in the food and fiber system; increasing importance of agribusiness in agricultural frontiers and developing countries; impacts of agglomeration economies; among others [2-3]. The challenges encountered in agribusiness are interrelated and dependent on political and economic issues affecting entire agricultural supply chains from the producer to the consumer.
- Teaching Scholarship: Expansion of the agribusiness economy has increased the demand for agribusiness students in both undergraduate and graduate programs. Demand is expected to continue to grow with the increased need for food and fiber production over the foreseeable future. Industry demands will require agribusiness degree programs to increase focus on applied problem solving; data analytics and visualization; understanding of business and economics; team and group dynamics; oral and written communication skills; and understanding of the complex food, fiber, fuel and feed system . Teaching scholarship as it applies to agribusiness is an integral component to the success and future of agribusiness.
- Extension Scholarship: While agribusiness extension programs are relatively young, they have formed out of more traditional agricultural economics extension programs, to provide extension programming and outreach for suppliers and buyers along the entire agricultural supply chain. With personnel and budgetary constraints, extension scholarship must focus on improvements and innovations in electronic delivery and outreach; distance learning; and strengthened collaborations across state lines that provide synergies across larger regions and maximize the output of agribusiness extension specialists .
WERA-72 plays an important role in helping to facilitate this process in promoting agribusiness research, teaching and extension scholarship. This is further enhanced through partnerships with other organizations whose motivations align with WERA-72 (e.g. Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association), as well as with dissemination of research through partnering outlets (through special issues and invited papers). As a result, WERA-72 is able to share leading research with interested stakeholders and discuss best practices regarding how to prepare the next generation of agribusiness leaders.
The committee undertakes several activities to facilitate information exchange including organization of an annual meeting at which the above issues and other timely topics are addressed. In addition, meetings provide a venue for participants to collaborate on research, teaching and extension scholarship activities (e.g. research projects, grant writing). Participation in the project includes university faculty with responsibilities in agribusiness research, extension, and teaching from traditional land grant institutions as well as selected public universities that also have programs targeting the agribusiness sector. The group has enjoyed active participation from government and industry representatives, as well. The coordination of public and privately funded research, teaching and outreach programs is a unique contribution of WERA-72. We strive to encourage the participation of graduate and undergraduate students, providing them with not only opportunities to discuss their research efforts, but receive constructive feedback, as well as provide opportunities to shape new directions of agribusiness scholarship.
WERA-72 is focused on the scholarship of agribusiness and its future. WERA-72 provides faculty and decision-makers from land-grant and other universities, industry, and government a forum to interact, share information, and collaborate on research, teaching and extension scholarship that pertains to issues important to agribusinesses such as food production, distribution and consumption, and a safe and sustainable food supply. Through participation in WERA-72, participants will be better able to coordinate timely research, teaching and extension activities that examine the agribusiness industry in greater detail. The group strives to provide participants with innovative and appropriate channels to disseminate and exchange leading research on issues of importance to agribusiness firms and stakeholders. With the rapid expansion and changes in the agribusiness system and the need for the continued evolution of the agribusiness academy to meet the needs of agribusiness stakeholders, we propose the following objectives
To facilitate, coordinate and conduct research on how agribusiness can meet future needs, including access, use and analysis of large amounts of data; sustainable natural resource management; responses of input and output markets to price changes and other non-market factors; competitiveness, efficiency and productivity of agricultural firms; continued consolidation in the food and fiber system; craft and local food initiatives; food and energy security; agritourism; and the role of agribusiness in agricultural frontier expansion and economies of developing countries.
To facilitate, coordinate, assess and develop approaches to enhance agribusiness education at the undergraduate and graduate level that meets the needs of industry and the agribusiness academy. Efforts will strive to meet industry demands that will help agribusiness education improve applied problem solving; data analytics and visualization; understanding of business and economics; team and group dynamics; oral and written communication skills; and understanding of the complex food, fiber, fuel and feed system. WERA-72 will continue to coordinate and disseminate research on best practices in agribusiness education.
Objective 3: To facilitate, coordinate, assess and develop materials, programs and processes that assist and advance agribusiness extension efforts and meet the needs of agribusiness stakeholders. A particular focus here will be on improvements and innovations in electronic delivery and outreach; distance learning; and strengthened collaborations across state lines that provide synergies across larger regions and maximize the output of agribusiness extension specialists.
Procedures and Activities
Expected Outcomes and Impacts
- • WERA-72 will facilitate the development of quality research, teaching and extension programs in agribusiness and economic development through collaboration in integrated and multi-state work. Outcomes of WERA-72 will be greater coordination of agribusiness research projects, educational programs, and extension programs across states and regions as well as greater and more timely dissemination of research results and information.
- • WERA-72 will work to coordinate special issues of peer-reviewed journals related to a specific theme from the WERA-72 objectives. This may include the development of a themed issue of a publication with a broader reach, such as Choices, Applied Economics Teaching Resources or Journal of Extension, to stimulate discussion and potential research on agribusiness-related issues.
- • WERA-72 will develop new ways to disseminate information regarding ongoing research and extension projects to interested parties. This will include greater use of the project website that catalogues past and ongoing research, as well as the potential utilization of new tools that may provide for greater discussion of current issues and the dissemination of research results.
- • WERA-72 will also serve as an outlet for presentation and discussion of research findings, advances in agribusiness teaching, and extension program developments at professional meetings. Through our own annual meeting, and possibly with joint meetings with other associations, such as the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, Regional Agricultural Economics Associations (e.g Western, Southern, etc.), the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association, the Food Distribution Research Society, researchers and other participants will have an outlet to discuss new areas of research, teaching and extension efforts. WERA-72 will also look to continue the relationship with the broader industry through participation of membership at industry conventions such as the National Grocers Association and the Produce Marketing Association.
- WERA -72 will facilitate publication in peer-reviewed journals and other scholarly outlets of scholarship based on multi-institution and multi-state collaboration.
- • WERA-72 will facilitate collaboration to attract grant funding to address significant multi-state research, extension and instructional issues in the field of agribusiness.
Projected ParticipationView Appendix E: Participation
The annual meeting of the coordinating committee provides a forum for discussion and collaboration among participants and attendees interested in agribusiness issues. In addition to the published output from meeting presentations, the open forum enables participants to disseminate information via presentations at other professional meetings (including Western Agricultural Economics Association (WAEA), NCR-194, the Food Distribution Research Society (FDRS), and the Agriculture and Applied Economics Association (AAEA), as well as through extension programming conducted at participants institutions and in the classroom. Additionally, many fact sheets are produced from the published refereed research that take the more sophisticated research and put it into a useable format for the general public.
The recommended Standard Governance for multistate research activities includes the election of a Chair, a Chair-elect, and a Secretary. All officers are to be elected for at least two-year terms to provide continuity. Administrative guidance will be provided by an assigned Administrative Advisor and a CSREES Representative. WERA-72 also hosts an annual meeting, which typically meets in June.
 Davis, J. H., & Goldberg, R. A. (1957). A Concept of Agribusiness. Division of Research, Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard University.
 Featherstone, A.M. (2018). The farm economy: future research and education priorities. Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy 40(1): 136 – 154.
 Coble, K.H., Mishra, A.K., Ferrell, S. & Griffin, T. (2018). Big data in agriculture: a challenge for the future. Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy 40(1): 79 – 96.
 Ward, R.A., Woods, T. & Wysocki, A. (2011). Agribusiness extension: the past, present, and future? International Food and Agribusiness Management Review 14(5): 125 – 140.