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David Sparks Ph.d U of I Endowment
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Idaho Ag Today
Date: March 27, 2018

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The Idaho Wheat Commission announced a $2 million gift to the University of Idaho to fund a new effort to expand education focused on risk management.The Idaho Wheat Commission gift will establish an Endowed Chair of Risk Management to enhance existing programs in agricultural commodity and financial risk management. It will expand collaboration between the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the College of Business and Economics.

The two colleges cooperate on the Agricultural Commodity Risk Management Program and the Barker Capital Management and Trading Program.

“We believe this is an opportunity to fill a gap in the supply chain. It will provide students with the valuable real-life experience to succeed in that area of the industry and, by so doing, strengthen the agricultural industry as a whole,” said Blaine Jacobson, Idaho Wheat Commission executive director.

“The support of the Idaho Wheat Commission ensures the university will continue to expand the unique and transformative educational opportunities made possible by this collaboration,” said Michael P. Parrella, CALS dean. “This will further enhance our national reputation for educating students on managing agricultural market risks using a wide variety of tools that include futures and options trading and using securities markets to counterbalance agricultural risks.”

The endowed chair will also provide valuable outreach to commodity groups, agribusinesses, producers, financial institutions, market participants, policymakers and others who use active risk management practices, Parrella said.

The individual holding the endowed chair will have considerable depth of experience in conducting research related to agricultural commodity and financial security markets on a global, national and regional scale. Their future research in this position may include price forecasting and examining impacts of changing policies, macroeconomic factors and structural changes in commodity markets on risks encountered throughout the supply chain.

"A solid foundation in business certainly benefits agriculture students, which is why hands-on learning opportunities in risk management are so valuable," said Marc C. Chopin, CBE dean. "The support of the Idaho Wheat Commission and expanded collaboration with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences ensures we can continue to provide students with experiences like this and prepare them to make meaningful contributions to Idaho's businesses and economy."

U of I agricultural economics graduate student Brett Wilder of Meridian is among students who benefit from the collaborative programs. He is studying livestock markets as part of his passion to help farmers and ranchers improve profits.

“We are fortunate to have seen first-hand the importance of proper risk management and to have hands-on experience with real-world tools that can be a game changer for farmers and ranchers,” Wilder said. “The IWC gift of an endowed chair will make this program even more attractive for students to come to the University of Idaho to learn these important and valuable skills for risk management in both commodities and securities markets.”

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