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Ronald D. Knutson

Ronald D. Knutson's Appreciation Club was established in recognition of Professor Knutson's many noteworthy contributions to the agricultural economics profession, especially in public policy education. He has had a career of scholarship and innovation in teaching, leadership in the development of extension public policy education programs, leadership in the development of professional input into the policy decision process, and professional service to Farm Foundation and AAEA.

Scholarship and Innovation in Teaching

Knutson is the lead author of the undergraduate policy textbook, Agricultural and Food Policy--the first to recognize that agricultural policy includes international, resource, and food policy components, as well as domestic farm policy. This book, having served the professional test of time, was redesigned in the 5th edition to communicate with agricultural economics majors, non-majors, and policy makers. To give students experience in the policy process, Knutson created the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Congressional Intern Program. This program, now administered by the Dean's office, has given over 298 students experience in congressional and state legislative offices.

Leadership in Extension Public Policy Education Programs

From his arrival in 1975 at Texas A&M University, Knutson provided leadership for development of nationally distributed public policy education materials for every farm bill through the 1996 bill. These materials were utilized by policy educators throughout the US and also used in classrooms.

While well known and relied on by policy makers for his expertise in domestic farm policy and dairy policy, Knutson also provided national and state leadership in other areas where voids in knowledge of policy options and consequences are apparent. In 1987 he was national co-chair for the development of a set of extension education materials on rural development policy options and consequences that received the AAEA Quality of Communication Award.

Professional Input into the Policy Process

Knutson fostered, developed, and administered means of providing direct professional input into the policy process. The best example of this is the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University. Knutson was involved from its inception in development of AFPC's congressional funding base. AFPC farm impacts analyses became linked to FAPRI's analyses of sector impacts of policy changes.

While Knutson does not take credit for development of the Cornell University Dairy Markets and Policy Program, it grew out of the same congressional funding base as AFPC, and Knutson has been an active participant in developing education materials for that program since its inception. As a result of his continued involvement in the Cornell program and his extensive background in dairy marketing and policy research, Knutson has been called upon by two Secretaries of Agriculture to head up a Milk Pricing Advisory Committee and a University Study Committee on Milk Pricing. Both made major contributions to changes made in Federal Milk Marketing Order pricing policy.

Professional Service

Knutson played a key role in fostering implementation of the so-called big tent concept designed to serve all members of the profession. His service in this capacity began prior to his election as a member of the AAEA board through active participation in the strategic planning process. As a board member Knutson was an active proponent of sections as a means of achieving increased relevance. As chair of AAEA's priorities and governance committee, he provided leadership for section involvement in the nomination of officers and in program development.

Knutson's role on the Farm Foundation board of directors and as its first academic chair, has been to provide leadership for board input into program development, to ensure that it maintains a neutral stance regarding policy issues, and to provide opportunities for agricultural economists to continue to provide leadership for Farm Foundation programs in the face of other vested interest challenges.