UNR to offer dual-degree program in ag science, economics

Alfalfa grows in a field in Northern Nevada. The new dual-degree program in agricultural science and economics is aimed at growing the state’s ag industry.

Alfalfa grows in a field in Northern Nevada. The new dual-degree program in agricultural science and economics is aimed at growing the state’s ag industry.

Photo: Robert Moore

In order to succeed in agriculture, producers not only need to understand the science of growing crops and animals, but also the economics of running a business — fixed and variable costs, return on investment, price fluctuations, food markets and more.

With the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development recognizing agriculture as one of Nevada’s key industries, the University of Nevada, Reno has created a new program to allow students to obtain both a Bachelor of Science in agricultural science and a Bachelor of Arts in economics in four years.

The new program is a collaboration of the University’s College of Business and its College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources. Agriculture is rapidly expanding in Nevada, with a 60.4% increase in jobs over the past decade, compared to just a 7.4% increase nationally.

In addition to making sure producers have both the agriculture science knowledge and business acumen they need to succeed, the new dual-degree program aims to provide the state with experts who can analyze data, national and international trade, and public policy related to agriculture, and help guide the industry, serving as resources for the state’s producers.

“One major thrust of our College is to address the issue of food security, and that means being able to produce more food locally, without having to rely on food grown hundreds and even thousands of miles away,” said Bill Payne, dean of the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources. “Another thrust is to help our state prosper economically. This partnership with our colleagues in the College of Business helps us work toward both of these goals.”

The dual-degree program allows students to combine a passion for providing for the world through agriculture with a powerful understanding of markets, trade and statistics.

Graduates of the program will be prepared for careers that can make a positive impact in both the public and private sectors in fields relating to agriculture and economics. They will also be prepared to continue their education in graduate school in the domain of agricultural economics if they choose to do so.

“In addition to providing academic degree programs, our College’s research program includes faculty working in the agriculture and natural resources industry sectors” said Greg Mosier, dean of the College of Business. “Nevada needs more professionals who can serve this growing industry and provide producers with the data and analysis they need. Graduates of this new dual-degree program will help fill that gap.”

The College of Business helps businesses and specific industries throughout the state with research, analysis, training and services, such as those provided through its University Center for Economic Development, Center for Regional Studies and Nevada Small Business Development Center.

Likewise, the College of Ag’s Experiment Station and Extension units conduct research and engage with producers across the state to help them run sustainable operations in Nevada’s challenging conditions — programs to increase irrigation efficiency, grow low-water-use crops, and sustain rangeland health, for example. The College also assists other industries by providing data and analysis, industry-specific training and more.

The College’s new collaborative dual-degree program will provide the state with more agricultural economists who can help propel the state’s agriculture industry into the future. Students who graduate from the program will be able to:

  • demonstrate mastery of fundamental agricultural, business and economic practices, including livestock and crop production, and familiarity with agricultural markets, including futures, price forecasting and risk assessment.
  • demonstrate knowledge of trade policy and associated impact on global agricultural markets.
  • develop, analyze and interpret quantitative agricultural business and economic forecasting models.
  • communicate effectively within the agribusiness environment.
  • recognize, evaluate and settle ethical issues.
  • fill entry-level positions in agricultural economics, and enter graduate studies.

For more information on the program for dual bachelor’s degrees in agricultural science and economics, contact The College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources at 775-784-1634 or [email protected]; or The College of Business at 775-784-4912, [email protected]..