Category Archives: Summer 2011

Team Researches Chinese Beef Demand

A team of researchers has published an overview of Chinese beef demand, shifting consumer preferences, and the opportunities within future beef demand growth.

Agricultural economics graduate students Shonda Anderson, 2011 master’s graduate, Casey Bieroth, 2010 master’s graduate, and Grace Tucker, master’s student, collaborated with Ted Schroeder, professor of agricultural economics, to write, “Chinese Beef Consumption Trends: Implications for Future Trading Partners.”

The publication is available online at Anderson, Tucker and Schroeder were interviewed in April on Agriculture Today, the official radio program of K-State Research and Extension.

In 2010, the United States exported more than $4 billion worth of beef to its trading partners around the world. Export sales accounted for approximately 9 percent of total U.S. beef production. Developing, regaining and expanding access to global trading partners is crucial to expanding demand for U.S. beef. China represents an important U.S. trading partner for many reasons including population and income growth, shifting consumer preferences, and changing political and regulatory environments.


Graduate Becomes Ag Policy Adviser

Wayne Stoskopf

by K-State News Services

One agribusiness graduate is moving up the ranks as a Congressional staff member.

Wayne Stoskopf, a May 2010 graduate in agribusiness, formerly of Hoisington, served as an intern in summer 2009 for Jerry Moran, then the state’s 1st District congressman. During Moran’s campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2010, Stoskopf was a field director in central Kansas. He has since transitioned into a new role as a staff assistant for Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who represents Kansas’ 2nd District. In addition to constituent services, Stoskopf advises Jenkins on agricultural policy. This role is especially important given that Jenkins is a member of the House trade subcommittee.

“It allows her to be a strong advocate for Kansas agriculture,” Stoskopf said. “I’m excited about continuing to assist her as she works to open more trade markets for agriculture producers. As a K-State College of Agriculture graduate, this is a perfect fit.”

He credits leadership experiences at K-State as good preparation for working in Washington, D.C. Stoskopf served as student body vice president in 2009-2010. He also was a member of Blue Key, the senior leadership honorary, and other student organizations.

Ag Economics, Agribusiness Degrees Offer Salary Benefits

By David Lambert, Department Head, Agricultural Economics

New data available from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey permits comparisons of earnings by college graduates based on major.

Researchers at Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce have collected and analyzed earnings data from the ACS. The full report can be downloaded at the Georgetown site:

The sample contains information on 171 college majors in 15 major categories. The total sample has earnings data for nearly 34 million Americans.

Students receiving undergraduate degrees in business compose the largest group (25.0 percent). Students majoring in agriculture and natural resources comprise 1.6 percent of the sample. Agricultural economics majors comprise 6 percent (32,427 graduates) of the students graduating within the agriculture and natural resource category.

The unique feature of the report is the characterization of earnings’ distributions by major. Instead of such frequently reported figures as average earnings of a college graduate are 84 percent higher than individuals with just a high school diploma, lifetime earnings from individual majors are reported.

For example, lifetime earnings for students majoring in engineering are $1,090,000. Education majors earn on average $241,000 over their working lifetimes. Correlated with these lifetime earnings estimates are median incomes by major. Median income for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering is $120,000 per year.

Median income for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in counseling/psychology, the lowest reported median income, is $29,000 per year. The income figures are for all full-time workers regardless of graduation date, and thus do not represent starting salaries.

Within the agriculture and natural resource category, the highest median income is earned by people with degrees in Food Science ($65,000). Agricultural economics graduates are tied in second place (with Forestry), with a median income of $60,000 per year. Earnings at the 25 percent (75 percent) percentile for agricultural economics graduates are $39,000 ($92,000).

This initial report suffers from many of the problems of preliminary analyses, such as failing to account for time in the workplace, current occupations, and other conditioning factors. However, these failings aside, the report provides preliminary estimates of the value of a graduate (i.e., post-B.S.) degree (40 percent salary boost), and gender and racial characteristics of agricultural economics graduates. Unfortunately, sample sizes were too small to determine income gaps due to gender and race. On a positive note, 98 percent of the respondents with undergraduate degrees in agricultural economics are employed, tied for first among the agriculture and natural resource majors.

Although these results might persuade a high school student to focus on university studies in petroleum engineering, the report strengthens the argument for studying agricultural economics (and, by extension, agribusiness). The earnings distribution is high relative to all agriculture and natural resource fields. Median incomes also compare favorably with those reported for business majors. Employment prospects are good.

These findings just support the conclusion that 350 K-State students choosing to major in agricultural economics (and agribusiness) have already exhibited fantastic critical thinking and decision making skills!

Team Leads Review of USDA’s Agricultural Resource Management Survey

Two faculty members are helping lead a nationwide team of researchers in a review of the USDA’s Agricultural Resource Management Survey, which annually measures the financial health of farms and ranches.

Allen Featherstone, professor of agricultural economics, and Christine Wilson, assistant dean of the College of Agriculture, have teamed up with Chuck Moss, professor of food and resource economics at the University of Florida, to lead the year-long review. Their task is to review the survey and make recommendations for improvements.

“Basically when the USDA constructs income statements and balance sheets, we want to make sure that they’re measuring what they should be measuring,” he said.

So far, the team has found that changes to depreciation methods might need to be considered, as the survey has historically used tax depreciation which tends to overstate expenses, Featherstone said.

The team began reviewing the survey in September 2010 and expects to complete their review by this fall, Featherstone said.

Ag Econ Graduate Pursues Country Music Dream

By Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University

How did you spend spring break? Some college students went to a sunny beach, a family trip or just caught up on their sleep. One student spent his spring break going to Nashville – not just to listen to country music singers, but to identify a studio where he could sing himself. This is an up-and-coming country western singer with deep roots in rural Kansas.

Rusty Rierson, a native of El Dorado, grew up on the family farm near Leon in Butler County.

“I was really shy growing up,” Rusty said. “I wouldn’t even sing in front of my mom and dad.”  But he did enjoy singing, and he started out singing along with the radio on the tractor while working in the field.

“That’s where I learned to harmonize,” Rusty said.

At age 14, he started singing in church. At age 16, his dad got him a guitar and suggested they take guitar lessons together.

“I suspect this was all Dad’s strategy to get me started on the guitar, and sure enough it worked,” he said. He found he loved playing the guitar and singing.

Meanwhile, he went on to K-State and got a degree in agricultural economics. In spring 2011, he will complete a master’s degree in animal science. But at the same time, his music career has blossomed.

In 2005, he went to the Kansas Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Talent Find and won the contest. He got to play at the state fair and has been invited back since. In 2007 Rusty won the “Colgate Country Showdown” at the state level and placed in the top 15 nationally. Now he is actively traveling and touring.
Rusty has played in Kansas, Missouri, Las Vegas, Texas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and California. He played in Mexico while on a church mission trip and in Central America while on a K-State study abroad program. Traveling with the Better Horses radio network, he has played rodeos, barrel races and horse events all over the Midwest, including at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in 2009.

Rusty has produced three albums, with more than 20,000 copies now in print. In 2009 he released “Good Morning Glory,” a patriotic single and tribute to veterans that also includes a song written for legendary bull rider Lane Frost.

While Rusty is writing and performing songs for the modern country-music market, he enjoys gospel and the old-time cowboy singing as well.

“My mom and dad loved Don Williams, Conway Twitty and Merle Haggard, so we got to listen to the older style of music,” Rusty said.  “I know lots of songs that were popular 20 years before I was born.”

During spring break, Rusty visited Nashville to select a studio to produce his new album. It happens that the producer he selected is Dolly Parton’s cousin. More importantly, the producer generates high quality production and helps market the album once it is produced.

“It was awesome. I had never been exposed to that quality of professional musicians before,” Rusty said.

For more information on his upcoming album, his upcoming performance schedule and more, visit

Grad Students Fewell, Parman Earn Poster Awards

Congratulations to Jason Fewell and Bryon Parman, both Ph.D. students in agricultural economics, for their exceptional posters on sustainable energy research.

The Kansas State University Center for Sustainable Energy held its Bioenergy Symposium Poster Presentations Apr. 27-28.

“We were very impressed with the level of research accomplishment achieved this past year,” wrote the center’s co-directors Mary Rezac and Ron Madl. “The outstanding quality of the posters and presentations given at the symposium made selection of the poster awards all the more challenging. Congratulations to the following students on presenting exceptional posters that most effectively demonstrated the progress of their sustainable energy research.”

$1000 Mohammed Hussain (Peter Pfromm, Chemical Engineering, advisor)
$750 Jason Fewell (Jason Bergtold, Agricultural Economics, advisor)
$750 Myles Ikenberry (Keith Hohn, Chemical Engineering, advisor)
$500 Bryon Parman (Vincent Amanor-Boadu, Agricultural Economics, advisor)
$500 Leslie Schulte (Mary Rezac, Chemical Engineering, advisor)

CSE acknowledges and appreciates funding from ConocoPhillips that make it possible to grant the CSE poster awards.

Craig Smith Honored With Graduate Research Award

From left: John Leatherman, award recipient Craig Smith and his wife, Cari

Congratulations to Craig Smith, winner of the Graduate Research Assistant of the Year! Smith is graduating this month with his Ph.D. in agricultural economics.

Dr. John Leatherman, professor of agricultural economics, nominated Smith for the award, which is given by the Golden Key International Honour Society of Kansas State University.

Below are remarks Leatherman made during the award presentation.

Remarks from Dr. John Leatherman

First, I’d like to congratulate all of the nominees in this year’s competition. You should feel proud that one of your professors thought so highly of you as to have nominated you as GTA or GRA of the Year. I’m sure there are many here who are equally worthy of this award.

This is the first time I have nominated a student as GRA of the Year. It’s not that I haven’t worked with many fine students in the past, many of whom have gone on to successful careers for which I feel some sense of contribution. It’s just that Craig has so surpassed the threshold of high expectation that I felt compelled to seek this recognition on his behalf.

It’s not due to his stellar academic record, which is simply expected. It’s not even because of his awesome record of productivity that would already get him a positive mid-tenure review at most universities.

Where I think Craig really has distinguished himself is with his capacity to elevate the level of performance of all those around him. For no group is this been truer than for the faculty in our department who clamor for the opportunity to work with Craig. They have routinely reported to me that Craig is unlike other graduate students with whom they work. Craig is always a co-equal collaborator bringing ideas and energy to the table. He is always a partner in problem solving and has the capacity and energy to move the project forward. Once having decided the next step, Craig then comes back having taken the analysis two or three iterations further. Had I not written Craig’s nomination, another half dozen of our faculty to have happily taken my place.

I have had the joy and honor to have worked with Craig for nearly 10 years now, through two advanced degrees and as a partner in my Extension outreach program. In June, Craig will move on to new professional challenges. For the time that I have had to work closely with you, Craig, thank you. You have helped me to do some of my best work. I will sorely miss seeing you, spending time with you, and doing good things together as we have.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the role and contribution played by Craig’s wife, Cari Smith. At every step along the way, Craig was foremost concerned about how his next endeavor would affect the welfare of his family in the present and the future. Had he not had the support, stability, and love of his family, he would not be here today. Thank you, Cari.

Congratulations to you, Craig. You are, indeed, worthy of being named Graduate Research Assistant – No, make that Graduate Research Partner of the Year.

Graduate Student Recognized with Teaching Award

Beth Yeager

Beth Yeager, Ph.D. student in agricultural economics, received the 2011 Richard Elmore Brown Outstanding College of Agriculture Graduate Student Teaching Award on April 19, 2011 in the Flint Hills Room at the KSU Student Union.

Yeager was recognized for her work as an instructor for AGEC 515:  Food and Agribusiness Marketing during the Spring 2011 semester.  In addition, she has served as a graduate teaching assistant for AGEC 525, a grader for AGEC 710, and a substitute teacher in AGEC 500, AGEC 525, AGEC 598 and AGEC 823.

Along with her recognition, Yeager received a cash award of $500.

Graduate Student Featured on Market Journal TV Program

Kristen Schulte, master’s student in agricultural economics, spoke with Doug Jose, host of Market Journal, about financial farm management on Friday, Apr. 15, in Lincoln, Neb. Market Journal is a television program produced for agricultural producers by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension.

Schulte says producer peer groups of 8 to 10 operators is an effective method to benchmark the financial position of the farm and monitor its progress. To watch the full interview, visit and scroll down to find Schulte’s interview.

NAMA Team Takes 3rd at National Competition

By Nellie Hill
From the K-State Collegian

After a year of preparation and practice, the final placing of the National Agri-Marketing Association Student Marketing Competition was announced to a packed hall on April 15.

This year, the annual Agri-Marketing Conference, hosted by NAMA professionals, was held April 13-15 in Kansas City, Mo. The K-State NAMA team placed 3rd overall in the competition of the 30 top agricultural universities in the country, including Ohio State University and Texas A&M, both of which K-State placed ahead of in the final round.

For the competition, each team develops an agricultural product and creates a marketing plan that establishes clear need, target market, financials, public relations, as well as monitoring and measurement of product success. This is presented in a written executive summary and a formal presentation to judges at the conference.

K-State’s product this year was VitaGold, a power supplement for bees that halts Colony Collapse Disorder. Each year, 32 percent of the United States bee population dies due to CCD, costing the agricultural industry $15 billion annually, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

VitaGold isolates, treats and prevents the disease Nosema in bees, thus ending colony destruction.

After arriving at the Agri-Marketing Conference, universities are split into one of five heats, each of which is composed of six teams. The top two from the round move on to semi-finals to compete against three other teams. To move onto the final round, teams must be in the top two of their semi-final heat. Judges for each round are leaders in agricultural business and communications.

During each round, the team makes a presentation on their marketing plan to the judges with the challenge to establish need, proper market analysis, strategy, action plan, and follow-up monitoring and measurement to product launch.

“This team was successful because of talent, hard work, practice and team chemistry,” said David Lehman, team advisor and marketing instructor. “We had a diverse team of talented students who worked hard to be one of the best agri-marketing teams in the nation.”

Students and professionals alike gain valuable contacts, experience, and skills through involvement in NAMA.

“(NAMA) provides leadership, focus, business relationships and professional improvement,” said Barry E. Nelson, public relations manager for the John Deere Ag Marketing Center.

NAMA at K-State welcome students from all colleges. Laura Nigro, senior in marketing and team member, encourages students to get involved.

“It gives your real life experience building a business plan and working with people from diverse backgrounds. Plus, it’s great for networking,” Nigro said.

“K-State students should get involved in NAMA to learn how to create a marketing plan, apply what they have learned in many different classes to a real-world marketing situation and have a positive experience working as part of a team,” Lehman said. “Also, students have a great opportunity for networking with professional NAMA members to learn about careers and make connections that will help them get internships and jobs after graduation.”

Such a successful year has established a momentum that the team will use to fuel next year’s competition preparation. Lehman has nothing but a positive attitude about the team and its future.

“This is our best placing since winning back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007,” Lehman said. “I want us to win the championship again next year.”