Extension by Peck, Bastian and RittenWritten by Dannelle Peck, Christopher Bastian and John Ritten
By Dannele Peck, Christopher Bastian and John Ritten, all of UW
Livestock and meat production are important sectors of the agricultural economy. Last year, 26.2 billion pounds of beef were produced in the U.S., with an estimated retail value of $74 billion. The average U.S. consumer ate 104 pounds of red meat.
U.S. livestock and meat products are also in high demand throughout the world. Beef, veal and pork exports totaled nearly 8 billion pounds last year. Given the growing economic importance of livestock and meat production, well-trained employees are needed throughout the production chain.
To better prepare students for employment in any sector of the livestock and meat industries, the UW Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics has developed a new agribusiness degree option in Livestock Business Management. Undergraduate students in the department have historically chosen between three options within the BS program in Agricultural Business: Agribusiness Management, Farm and Ranch Management or International Agriculture. In Fall 2012, the new Livestock Business Management option will be available to students.
This new option will prepare students to not only successfully manage farms and ranches, but also to pursue successful careers in the many other sectors that contribute to beef production, such as input suppliers, feedlots, packing plants, marketing firms, retailers, market analysts and international trade organizations. A wide variety of jobs exist in the livestock industry, but to successfully compete for them, students must be knowledgeable of both the biology and business of livestock production.
The new Livestock Business Management option will provide students with a well-balanced set of skills in both livestock production science and business management. Students will take roughly 24 credit hours of upper-division coursework in Agricultural Business (for example, in farm and ranch management, futures and commodities, international trade, agricultural finance and marketing) and 24 credits of upper-division coursework in livestock production (for example, in animal biology, reproduction, nutrition, genetics, grazing management and meat science).
Students who complete a specific set of livestock production courses can earn an Animal Science minor. Alternatively, students can substitute roughly 12 credits of rangeland and watershed management courses for certain animal science and biology courses. Although this alternative will not necessarily lead to a minor, it will enable students to tailor their production-related coursework to a particular sector of the livestock industry or to their unique career goals.
The purpose in developing this new option is to prepare agricultural business students for a broader set of jobs across the livestock industry, including but not limited to the farm and ranch sector. By providing students with knowledge in both agricultural business and livestock biology (as well as communication and analytical skills), we believe they will have more diverse employment opportunities after graduation, and greater flexibility and promotion potential during their careers.
“We surveyed incoming freshman to gauge their level of interest in several different ideas for new options. The Livestock Business Management option generated the most excitement among new students,” says Dannele Peck, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.
“Students who have earned dual degrees in Agribusiness and Animal Science in the past have had very good job opportunities upon graduation,” says Chris Bastian, associate professor in the department.
“Employers seem to like the combination of business and production training,” says Peck.
However, a dual degree usually takes students at least five years to complete. This new Livestock Business Management option offers a similar balance of training, but can be completed in four years.
“We believe students who complete this degree option will be highly employable, and can complete it in less time than a dual degree,” says Bastian.