The theme of my address is diversity in the profession of agricultural economics. I address diversity as a response, a strategy, not as an end in itself but as a conscious approach by ag economists in land grant universities seeking a useful role in the future.
I chose this theme because I am genuinely concerned about our future in the 1862 and 1890 land grants. I acknowledge up front that not all ag economists work in land grant universities but all have a stake in them as our primary reservoir of human capital. Most practicing ag economists have roots in a land grant university and depend on their products for “new blood” in business or government. My interest in diversity has been influenced by the writings of several prominent ag economists, reviewed briefly below, by recent conversations with Jim Hildreth, John Holt, and Jim Bonnen regarding the future of the land grants and by personal observations of the painful manifestations of tensions within departments in the South and elsewhere as faculty try to position themselves for an uncertain future.