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Wheat Growers Scholar in Agribusiness Management

The Wheat Growers Scholar in Agribusiness Management is Dr. Matt Diersen. His initial goals have been to increase sector knowledge, increase visibility, revise curriculum, and increase collaboration.

The fast pace of changes in agriculture production has been mirrored by changes in agribusiness. Economies of size have resulted in consolidation of input suppliers and merchandisers. Through early work by Dr. Diersen and students we have a better understanding of input manufacturing, transportation, and credit.

Students are being directly supported by the funds, and have increased their knowledge and understanding of agribusinesses. We expect their thesis work and other outputs will demonstrate this new knowledge. Time is also now available to share this information more readily with others.

There have been several occasions that have lead to increased visibility of our foundational efforts or existing work. Dr. Diersen has been to Aberdeen and Minneapolis to visit with Wheat Grower staff, their board of directors, and several affiliated industry representatives. They have invited our students to visit their staff at the Aberdeen headquarters. This networking makes the experience more real for our students and informs their research. Other agribusinesses have also called on us for insights because of the media coverage of the scholar.

We are currently revising the agriculture business curriculum to incorporate the Economics and Management Initiative-driven core. By interacting with the Wheat Growers staff and board members, they have expressed desires about what they would seek in employees and challenged us regarding our existing curriculum. We are working to more clearly define an agribusiness tract out of a broader agricultural economics foundation.

A harder to measure impact comes from increased collaboration. Colleagues on campus have reached out myself and other scholars because of our increased visibility and changed focus. Dr. Diersen has been invited to collaborate on scholar-related projects with colleagues from the University of Minnesota, Kansas State University and North Dakota State University.

Two M.S. students finished thesis projects under WG funding in 2013. The first project started as an exploration of the differences between farm income flows in the presence of cooperatives and corporations. Because bankers likely have knowledge of farm income across sources, Charles Appiah assessed how their forecasts of farm income translated into aggregate spending on capital items and on household items. With a better understanding of the link between income and spending, we can now explore how the different sources may translate into different spending levels and economic activity at the state level. 

The second project started as an exploration of how to manage risk from a firm perspective under policy constraints. While the benefits of crop insurance has been well documented from the producers' perspective, input suppliers and grain handlers are still be subject to fluctuations in business volume. While exploring the potential use of index insurance Pratik Gurung applied analytical techniques to a pasture insurance product. We think the method would be analogous to how a firm would approach using a portfolio framework to manage risk. 

A third area has been a general look at various structural issues in the commodity markets related to cropping patterns and price levels. Nicolas Jorgensen has been evaluating how well model of corn yield based on crop conditions ratings compares to a model based on weather variables. Ultimately, a better forecast of corn yields would allow of better management of business volume risk. Another student, Ethan Thom, has begun looking at the transportation sector in the region. We are also looking at the trade-offs given lower corn prices and lower price volatility. 

  • Major Advisor, 2013, C. Appiah. M.S. Thesis, "Ability of Agricultural Bankers to Forecast Farm Income and Expenditures."  
  • Major Advisor, 2013, P. Gurung. M.S. Thesis, "Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage (PRF) Insurance – Optimal Insurance Portfolio."  
  • Major Advisor, 2013-present, N. Jorgensen. Corn Yields Projections. Committee Member, 2013-present, S. Saleh (bio-energy).   
  • In addition, in 2014 advising or member for E. Thom (transportation), M. Sommer (price analysis), and K. Cook (meat processors).   

Related Publications
Fausti, S.W., Z. Wang, B.A. Qasmi, and M.A. Diersen. 2014. "Risk and marketing behavior: pricing fed cattle on a grid." Agricultural Economics 45: 1-12. Diersen, M.A. "Farm Policy Heading Into 2014." Wheat Growers News, Winter (2013): 6. 

Jorgensen, N. and M. Diersen. 2013. |" href="/econ/emi/" >"Developing Planning Prices for Commodities." Economics Commentator No. 546, Department of Economics, South Dakota State University, Brookings, October 31, 2013.   

Diersen, M. 2013. Insuring soybeans in South Dakota. Chapter 46. In Clay, D.E., C.G. Carlson, S.A. Clay, L. Wagner, D. Deneke, and C. Hay. (eds). iGrow Soybeans: Best Management Practices for Soybean Production. South Dakota State University, SDSU Extension, Brookings, SD. 

Fausti, S.W., M.A. Diersen, B.A. Qasmi, J. Li and B. Lange. 2013. "The effect of animal gender on producer marketing behavior." Applied Economics Letters 20, 2: 180-185. 

Diersen, M.A. and M.C. Roberts. Preface. 2012. Journal of Agribusiness 30, 2 – Special Issue [NCCC-134]. 

Diersen, M. 2012. "Insuring Wheat in South Dakota." Chapter 9. In Clay, D.E., C.G. Carlson, and K. Dalsted (eds). iGrow Wheat: Best Management Practices for Wheat Production in South Dakota. South Dakota State University, SDSU Extension, Brookings, SD.

Diersen, M.A. "Remember Your Strengths." Wheat Growers News, Summer (2012): 11.