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Senior Section

The Evolving Structure of Agriculture: Productive or Disruptive?

The structure of American agriculture continues to evolve, with large numbers of small farms, but with most of the production coming from fewer and fewer, larger and larger production units. This poses continuing challenges and opportunities for adjustments in rural communities and in private and cooperative agribusinesses. What are the characteristics of those challenges and opportunities, and how will the responses to them alter the structure of the agribusiness sector and the character of rural communities?

For the Minneapolis meeting, the AAEA Senior Section has recruited a team of knowledgeable economists to address the positives and negatives of continuing structural change. A lead presenter will bring the audience up to date on the facts of change over the last two decades and where the trends seem to be going. Other presenters will examine the implications, good and bad, for rural communities and for cooperatives and other agribusinesses. A discussant will put the challenges and opportunities into longer term perspective.

When you get your program, look for the Track Session, “The Evolving Structure of U.S. Agriculture: Productive or Disruptive Changes for Rural America,” and add it to your list of sessions  to attend if you are interested in the farm sector and in the businesses that supply the inputs and market the products, or if your field is rural and community development. You will want to attend this session, to hear the presentations and to share your own perspectives on the meaning and consequences of the evolving structure of agriculture.

Extension Section

Each year, the Extension Section in collaboration with the Graduate Student Section (GSS) holds and sponsors the Graduate Student Extension Competition. This competition provides graduate student competitors the opportunity to develop extension and outreach programs from their research. The development of education materials and presentations suitable for a general public audience is expected. Cash prizes are awarded to the top three teams.

We encourage all departments with graduate students in agricultural economics, agribusiness, natural resource economics, community resource economics, applied economics or similar programs related to agriculture and/or the food system to inform their students about this important competition.

Purpose for the Competition
The competition provides incentives to graduate students to learn to prepare and present appropriate analytical results for an extension (usually non-economist) audience. This can be based upon the graduate student’s research for a thesis or dissertation. Participation in the competition is expected to enhance the professional growth of the participating students regarding extension programs.

Who’s Eligible?
Eligible applicants are:

  • Graduate students currently engaged in agricultural economics, agribusiness, natural resources, community resource economics, applied or similar economics MS or PhD programs related to agriculture and/or the food system
  • Those who graduated from such programs in 2013 or later

Note: Participants must identify and work with a mentor with experience in outreach or extension activities.

Competition Application Information
Applications should be addressed to Maria Marshall and must include:

  1. Student’s name, university, department, address and contact information
  2. Title of the extension program to be delivered
  3. A summary of the proposed extension program. This should include target audience, delivery plans, communication methods and activities planned for distributing the information to the public such as with fact sheets, pamphlets, press releases, reports, web sites, streaming videos, spreadsheets, workshops, PowerPoint presentations and training activities to be conducted (4 page maximum)
  4. A profile of the student applicant’s background as well as the related thesis title and brief description of the research (maximum 1 page)
  5. The mentor’s name, address and description of the mentor’s role in assisting the student with this project

Submission Deadline
Applications must be submitted electronically no later than May 16, 2014.

Selection of Finalists
Finalists will be selected to make an extension/outreach presentation at the AAEA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis MN, July 27, 2014, to a panel of judges. Selection of the finalists will be based on the material submitted and the criteria listed below.

Criteria for Selecting Finalists
Criteria for judging the finalist and winners will include:
1. Identification of a target audience.
     a. An explanation of the issue/problem/opportunity being addressed
     b. An explanation on how this target audience was identified
2. Development of an extension program for the target audience that includes:
     a. An outline of the goals of the extension program
     b. A summary and an explanation of the main elements of the thesis or dissertation results to be included in the extension program. Include a description of how the research results will address the issue/problem/opportunity and benefit the target audience.
     c. A summary of the program in an extension report, or extension PowerPoint presentation, or other appropriate extension communication media that the audience can take home. This summary should be an explanation that would be effective in accomplishing the extension goals as identified in step 2a. above.
3. An explanation of extension team development and responsibilities in terms of program development and
delivery should be addressed, if appropriate.
4. Plans for evaluating the effectiveness of the extension program.

Extension/outreach presentation at the AAEA
Each finalist must develop oral and visual presentations (15-20 minutes in length) for delivery at the AAEA
Annual Meeting.The top three finalists are be expected to make presentations during an AAEA Extension track organized symposium.

Cash awards will be given to those judged to be the top three graduate students in this competition. Award
funding is provided by the Farm Foundation and the AAES Extension Section. Awards are:

  • First Place: $1,000 and a plaque
  • Second Place: $300 and a certificate
  • Third Place: $200 and a certificate
  • Other finalists receive finalist certificates

The top three competitors selected will recognized at the AAEA Awards ceremony. All finalists are guests at the Extension Luncheon during the AAEA Annual Meeting. Luncheon tickets will be provided to all finalists.

Submit Entries to:
Dr. Maria Marshall
Competition Committee Chair
Agriculture Economics Department
Purdue University
Phone: 765-494-4268

Graduate Student Section

The case study competition is a long and prestigious tradition in the Graduate Student Section. Every year, groups of students have a chance to show off their case study skills and win prize money as well as the great honor of being a case study competition winner. In collaboration with the Agribusiness Econometrics and Management Section, the Graduate Student Section Case Study Competition allows graduate students to test their communication skills and their ability to apply their knowledge of agricultural economics and agribusiness subjects to practical situations. Students competing in the competition will receive a copy of the case study at least two weeks in advance of the AAEA Annual Meeting.

AEM/GSS Case Study Competition Rules:

Each team should prepare an oral summary of their solution to the case that will last no more than 15 minutes. Presentations lasting over 15 minutes will be penalized. After the presentation, teams should be prepared to answer questions from the judges on their interpretation of the case.

Teams can be comprised of up to three graduate students. Students may either compete as a team from the same school, or may choose to be mixed with students from other schools. If there is only one student from a school that wants to participate, the student can compete on their own, or he/she can be matched with other students. In the case of teams that are matched with individuals from different universities, competitors will be notified of their teammates as soon as possible, but no later than the same day the case is announced.

AEM/GSS Case Study Competition Prizes:

The top three teams will receive plaques and cash prizes.

  • First Place: $300
  • Second Place: $200
  • Third Place: $100

Specific Information for the 2014 Case Study Competition:

The number of rounds will be determined by the number of teams entered. The final round will be composed of the top 3 teams. In addition to plaques and cash prizes, the three finalist teams will also be recognized during the AAEA Awards Ceremony.

  • Sunday, July 27, 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.: First Rounds of Competition
  • Monday, July 28, 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.: Final Round
  • Monday, July 28, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.: Awards Ceremony

Students participating in the case study competition will need to be registered for the Annual Meeting AND the Case Study Competition.

  1. Students should register for the AAEA Annual Meeting through the 2014 Annual Meeting Registration Form which is available online at
  2. Each team must also complete the Case Study registration form identifying their teammates and send it to AAEA no later than June 16, 2014.

Please direct any questions regarding the 2014 AAEA Case Study Competition to Dr. Aslihan Spaulding
( or GSS Section Chair, Brandon McFadden (