MSU’s ag economics department turns 100

MSU logoSTARKVILLE — A leading environmental economist will be the featured speaker Feb. 13 as Mississippi State University commemorates the centennial birthday of the agricultural economics department.

University alumnus Richard T. Carson, now an economics professor at the University of California, San Diego, will speak at 2 p.m. in McCool Hall’s Taylor Auditorium. The event is free and open to all.

“Evolution of Economic Thought on Climate Change” will be the title of his remarks. The 45-minute presentation will conclude with a question-and-answer period.

Founded in 1913, the department first was named the markets and rural economics department. It is fourth oldest among the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences degree-awarding units.

A 1977 MSU graduate, Carson has been called the world’s most cited environmental economist. He served as principal investigator for economic damage assessments of the massive 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

Because of extensive experience in assessing the benefits and costs of environmental policies and many other professional achievements, he was named a Fellow of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economics and the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

After earning MSU degrees in French and political science, he went on to receive a master’s degree from George Washington University. He also holds a second master’s and a doctoral degree from the University of California, Berkley.

Led by Steve Turner, the agricultural economics department boasts more than 2,000 alumni, including MSU President Mark Keenum, state economist Darrin Webb and former TVA chair Glenn McCullough.

“The department has been an asset to the state,” Turner said. “Our faculty provides economic analysis on business and agri-business ventures, design enterprise scale planning budgets on a variety of crops, and estimate agricultural land values for use in tax assessments.”

Nationally, the department has given assistance for congressional legislation dealing with the Farm Bill and Federal Crop Insurance. Most recently, Keith Coble, an MSU Giles Distinguished Professor, served as economist for the minority leadership of the U.S. Senate’s Agricultural Committee.

Turner described environmental economics as “a growth area for the department.”

He explained that environmental economics seeks to balance the demand for natural resources with the need to preserve the environment. The MSU department is among only a few universities offering an undergraduate major in environmental economics, he added.

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