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Ag economists offer online resourceAg economists offer online resource

In Montana, that Department of Agricultural Economics is branching out to offer information on economics, policy, market news and trade.

September 21, 2016

3 Min Read

Ag economists have a lot of information that farmers often want to hear. Their insights on global trade, or market trends, can be valuable for any farm business. At Montana State University, a new website is offering farmers, and others in agriculture, ready access to a wide range of information that could impact their business.

The site is ageconmt.com and it offers information for anyone in agriculture. Using blogs, podcasts, presentation events and industry information, the economists provide their insight into a variety of subject for crop and livestock producers. There's also information on policy, business and finance too.

Anton Bekkerman, MSU associate professor of agricultural economics, comments: "A primary goal of the website is to offer trending content that’s specifically tailored for agricultural communities and producers in the western U.S. We want to share our research and things we’re excited about with people whom it directly affects. There wasn’t a source site like this out there (before) that includes both news content and research analysis that relates to the northern Great Plains."

The site includes weekly blogs – or insights – written by faculty. These offer in-depth analyses on a range of topics that influence the country's ag economy. These feature explore news and policy with trending data, infographics and the potential associated effects for Montana's ag community. There are also short interviews with faculty on their particular research or their thoughts on markets and industry news. And commentary in a web-based open forum is encouraged, as is feedback from producers on what they want to learn more about.

Bekkerman adds that the goal is to streamline research into 300 to 400-word blogs and five minute podcasts, so people who are "literally in the field could read or listen on their phone." He notes that agricultural producers are a tech-savvy audience and that his department needs to be meeting this audience on those platforms with focused content.

Collin Watters, executive vice president of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, says the new website fills the increasing demand for ag production industry news and commentary, with the added benefit including viewpoints from MSU economists.

Adds Watters: " Montana producers have to be consumers of news so they can stay ahead of major variations in the agricultural industry, which affect people on a daily basis. This new website serves as a rich summary for timely trade news, and is made more valuable to growers because MSU researchers and economists provide expert insights into issues so that producers can use this meaningful information to make sound business decisions that impact their bottom lines.”

The Montana Wheat and Barley Committee provided more than $2 million in grants to MSU researchers last year.

Bekkerman explains that the economists wanted to create a website that was a one-stop shop for ag policy and market news that impacts the industry. "We want to expand and modernize the opportunities for our stakeholders to engage in our research, and in this way increase industries' benefits from our work," he notes.

MSU authors of the site include Bekkerman; Joseph Janzen, assistant professor of agricultural economics; Kate Fuller, assistant professor and agricultural economics Extension specialist; Eric Belasco, associate professor of agricultural economics; Diane Charlton, assistant professor of agricultural economics; Brock Smith, assistant professor of agricultural economics; and Joel Schumacher, associate Extension specialist economist.

Source: Montana State University/Jenny Lavey, MSU News Service

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