May 25, 2004 by Jeany Llorente NMSU News Center
In an effort to meet the demands of today’s agricultural industry, New Mexico State University has developed a new graduate-level program that will train future mid- and upper-level executives for the food and fiber industry.
NMSU’s College of Business Administration and Economics and College of Agriculture and Home Economics partnered to create a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program with a specialization in agribusiness.
“What we have created is a unique program that meets the demands of the industry and students, and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) accreditation requirements,” said Wayne Headrick, director of NMSU’s MBA Program. “It will provide a new graduate-level educational opportunity and open access to an additional pool of quality jobs for our students.”
Headrick said the program includes five agribusiness courses (15 credit hours) and seven core courses (21 credit hours) from the “general” MBA program.
“Students in the agribusiness specialization will be getting the same business background as other MBA students,” he said. “They will acquire the same analytical, communication and presentations skills, but they will get to apply them in the context of agribusiness.”
Organizers said there are a few universities that offer similar specializations within their MBA programs in the Midwest and a few throughout the West, but, to their knowledge, there are no such programs in the Southwest.
“Graduates of the program will be getting the kind of credentials that they need to be successful executives in the agribusiness sector,” Headrick said.
Octavio A. Ramirez, professor and department head of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business and Extension Economics at NMSU, said businesses in the agricultural, food and fiber industry seek people who have the qualifications of an MBA but also substantial background, knowledge and expertise in the agriculture sector.
“This program takes the extra steps to ensure that its graduates satisfy all of the requirements needed to earn an MBA degree that is fully accredited, while providing them with specialized advanced training in agribusiness management, agribusiness marketing, international agricultural trade and policy, agricultural commodity and future markets, and other key aspects related to agricultural, food and fiber business administration,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez said the food and fiber industry employs about 17 percent of the labor force in the United States and other industrialized countries, and more than 25 percent worldwide. He added that some major agribusiness corporations such as Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, ConAgra Foods, Pioneer-Dupont, Nestle and Kraft Foods provide excellent career opportunities in marketing, management and administration for MBA graduates. Graduates from a program like this can also seek careers in the public sector with agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau of Land Management.
Students in the program also will have the opportunity to participate in scholarly projects addressing agribusiness issues under the direction of experts in the field, Ramirez said.