The mission of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness is to generate, apply and disseminate knowledge on a wide range of issues important to agribusiness, agricultural production, food marketing, farm policy, natural resource use and rural development, in Louisiana, the nation, and the global community. Departmental faculty employ the highest scholarly standards in their teaching, research, and outreach and extension programs which are integral to the purpose of the land-grant university system.
Undergraduate students have the opportunity to pursue a B.S. degree in agribusiness, with concentrations in agribusiness finance, food industry management, international business and rural development. Graduate students have the opportunity to pursue M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in agricultural economics, with specialization in a variety of subject matter areas. Through the LSU AgCenter, our faculty conduct research and extension activities in a wide range of areas, including agricultural production economics, agribusiness, agricultural finance, commodity and food marketing, forestry economics, international trade, farm policy, rural development, rural sociology, and natural resource economics and conservation.
An important area of research and extension effort in the department focuses on the economics of major row crop production in Louisiana. The general objective of the various research projects in this area is to conduct economic evaluations of physical, technological, economic and farm policy factors affecting the production of major row crops, as single enterprises, and the management of commercial row crop farming operations, within a whole-farm context, in Louisiana. Researchers in this area investigate alternative crop production practices that maximize net farm economic returns as well as analyze the effects of alternative federal farm income support and conservation programs on alternative commercial farming operations in the state. These research activities focus on major crops produced in the state, including rice, sugarcane, corn, cotton, soybeans, and sweet potatoes.
Other areas of departmental research concentrate on issues in agribusiness sectors integral to the economic viability of agricultural and food production in Louisiana. One research project analyzes financial markets and how they are linked with debt decisions, providing information to stakeholders, representatives of financial institutions, researchers, farmers and citizens interested in starting an agricultural operation. Researchers in the department also analyze the importance of U.S. food and agricultural trade in a global market environment, including the impacts of exchange rates, trade agreements and domestic policies on Louisiana agriculture. Research projects on consumer demand identify food attributes and analyze factors that affect overall food demand as well as the food preferences of consumers.
The department also conducts economic research and extension activities in many natural resource sectors that are important to the Louisiana economy. One research area involves the economic effects of the Louisiana forestry sector and projects the near-term and long-run outlooks for the state’s wood products industry. Other research in the area of rural economic development measures the economic contribution of Louisiana agriculture to the state’s overall economy and analyzes the effects of parish-level rural prosperity and financial resiliency to withstand natural and economic adverse conditions. Further, the department also conducts wide-ranging research and extension efforts related to Louisiana’s coastal and fishery natural resources and their interrelationships with a healthy natural ecosystem and a vibrant state economy.
Research and extension activities in the department are focused on strengthening the economic viability of the agricultural sector in Louisiana while enhancing the wise use of natural resources. With faculty expertise covering a wide range of production, consumption, trade and policy areas, and with research projects investigating important economic issues in the areas of agriculture, food, natural resources and the environment, the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness plays an important role in the mission of the LSU AgCenter.
Michael E. Salassi is head of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness and holds the J. Nelson Fairbanks Endowed Professorship.
Matt Fannin, at right, is the William H. Alexander Professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness. Photo by Tobie Blanchard