Montana State University

MSU agricultural economics faculty launch new informational website for regional producers

September 12, 2016 -- By Jenny Lavey, MSU News Service

A group of faculty and Extension specialists in MSU’s Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics in the College of Agriculture and College of Letters and Science have launched an informational agricultural economics website for producers in the northern Great Plains agricultural industry. The website includes information on economics and policy, market news, trade and industry content. Faculty who have contributed to the website are pictured from left to right: MSU Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics faculty and agecon.mt.com authors; Kate Fuller, assistant professor and agricultural economics Extension specialist; Diane Charlton, assistant professor of agricultural economics; Brock Smith, assistant professor of agricultural economics; Anton Bekkerman, associate professor of agricultural economics and economics; Joseph Janzen, assistant professor of agricultural economics; Joel Schumacher, associate Extension specialist economist and Eric Belasco, associate professor of agricultural economics. MSU photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez.

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Tel: (406) 994-4571
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BOZEMAN – A lot of people might like to listen in on the watercooler chat between Montana State University agricultural economists. Now they can.

A group of faculty and Extension specialists in MSU’s Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics in the College of Agriculture and College of Letters and Science have launched an informational agricultural economics website for producers in the northern Great Plains agricultural industry. The website includes information on economics and policy, market news, trade and industry content.

The website, http://ageconmt.com/, is applicable for anyone involved in agriculture and features blogs, podcasts, presentation events and industry information on a variety of subjects spanning crops, livestock, policy and business and finance, according to Anton Bekkerman, MSU associate professor of agricultural economics.

“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.,” Bekkerman said. “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 features weekly blogs written by faculty that provide short, in-depth analyses on a wide array of topics that influence the country’s agricultural economy. The blogs explore news and policy with trending data, infographics and the potential associated effects for Montana’s agricultural community. The website also features short interviews with faculty on their particular research or their thoughts on markets and industry news. Commentary in a web-based open forum is encouraged, as is feedback from producers on what they would like to see covered.

“Our goal was to streamline our research into 300-400 word blogs and five minute podcasts, so that people who are literally in the field could read or listen on their phone,” he said. “The agricultural community is a highly technologically advanced audience, and we need to be meeting this audience on those platforms with focused content. Hopefully, it grows into a conversation and stronger connection with our on-the-ground stakeholders.”

Collin Watters, executive vice president of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, which provided more than $2 million in grants to MSU researchers last year, said the new website fills the increasing demand for agriculture production industry news and commentary – with the added benefit of including viewpoints from MSU economists. 

“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,” Watters said. “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.”  

Developing a modern outreach program that complements traditional methods for sharing information was the primary motive for creating the website, Bekkerman said. 

“We wanted to create a website that’s a one-stop shop for agriculture policy and market news that affects our industry,” Bekkerman said. “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.”

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.  

Contact: Anton Bekkerman, (406) 994-3032 or anton.bekkerman@montana.edu