Agricultural Economics

Careers in Ag Business

Graduates of the agricultural business program are in high demand and their jobs pay well! Surveys by UWRF Career Services indicate nearly 100% employment rates and starting salaries averaging above the median for college graduates.

In addition to preparing you for your first job, this major prepares you for a successful, long-term career. Each year, UW-River Falls recognizes one or two distinguished UWRF alumni. Since 2003, four of the individuals who have been honored with this award have been graduates of our program.

Potential Careers
  •     Agricultural business manager
  •     Farm loan officer
  •     Purchasing agent
  •     Grain merchandiser
  •     Agricultural marketing specialist
  •     Government inspector
  •     Garm equipment sales/service rep
  •     Commodity broker
  •     Financial consultant
  •     Credit loan officer
  •     Agricultural chemical sales
  •     Dairy plant manager
  •     Farm appraisal specialist
  •     Farm management consultant
  •     Farm manager or farmer
  •     Landscape contractor
  •     Statistician
  •     Veterinary supply salesperson
  •     Technical service representative
  •     Market forecaster
  •     Contract analyst
  •     Nursery manager
  •     Meat department manager
  •     Supermarket manager

Alumni Spotlight

Meet Ashley

Ashley Gausman Ashley Gausman
Sales Agronomist
Western WI Ag Supply
Ellsworth, WI
Hometown: Turtle Lake, WI
B.S. Agricultural Business, Agronomy Minor (May 2009)

Since graduating from UWRF, I have been working in sales for a full service cooperative in Ellsworth. As a sales agronomist, I am a direct link to agronomic information, technology and cooperative services for growers.

During the crop growing season, my job is very busy. Much of my time is spent outdoors monitoring fields for insects, disease and weeds, as well as making recommendations for fertilizer and crop protection products. When fall harvest is complete, I meet with each of my customers to recap the growing season. We analyze yield data, soil tests, variable rate applications, test plot information, markets and much more as we generate our farm plan for the following season. I love working directly with farmers, to help them achieve increased yields and maximize their profits. Each grower has a different management style that I must recognize and adapt to. Every day brings new challenges, but that is why I enjoy my job so much.

I am thankful for my UWRF education and experiences. When I left the family dairy farm for college, I wasn’t sure where I quite fit in the industry. I highly encourage anyone going into agriculture to do more than sit in class, get involved! CAFES has many clubs, organizations, and internships that allow you to travel, see other facets of agriculture from across the nation, and meet people who share the same passion for agriculture. It was those experiences that helped shape my professional career.

Meet Andrew

Andrew NovakovicAndrew Novakovic
The E.V. Baker Professor of Agricultural Economics

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Hometown: Milwaukee, WI
B.S. Agricultural Economics, Minors in Economics and Mathematics (1974)

After graduating UWRF, I achieved an M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in agricultural economics at Purdue University. Since 1978, I have been on the faculty of Cornell University, in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.
Several aspects of my time at UWRF stand out for me. Not the least of these is the consistency with which UWRF faculty from across campus showed a sincere interest and high dedication to providing the best possible education to students. This is not to be taken for granted. My two mentored summer internships were also highlights of my time there and an opportunity students at many other universities don't have.

When I went to Purdue I found myself in the company of an impressive set of students from universities ranging from the best of the Big Ten to Princeton. I can truthfully say that my preparation at UWRF was comparable to the best of the best. Despite growing up in a big city, I loved the small town environment and the intimacy of the campus. I valued the friends I made in my classes and Alpha Gamma Rho.

At Cornell, my primary focus has been applied research in the field of dairy market economics and educational programs for dairy leaders, analysts, and policy-makers. I teach courses in Dairy Markets and Policy and in Agricultural and Food Policy. I am an undergraduate adviser and teacher at the Dyson School, which is ranked by Business Week as a top five undergraduate school of business.

In 2010, I was appointed to chair a special USDA Dairy Industry Advisory Committee. Our report was submitted to the Secretary in March 2011. From July 2011 to June 2012, I served as a Senior Economist in USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist. In addition to working with USDA, I frequently assist Members of Congress and the professional staff on the Congressional agriculture committees in reviewing and analyzing dairy policy.

Meet Chet

Chet SlipekChet Slipek
Deputy Chief Examiner and Director, Market Risk Division

Farm Credit Administration
Bloomington, MN
Hometown: Thorp, WI
B.S. Agricultural Education (1977)
M.S. Agricultural and Applied Economics (1986)

After graduating from UWRF, I worked for several years as an agricultural loan officer with a small commercial bank. That first job was a great opportunity to directly apply many of the concepts and principles I learned in the classroom, and soft skills such as problem solving, communications and teamwork. My work initially was to gather and analyze financial information needed in farm lending decisions. As I gained experience, I gained more responsibility to recommend and approve credit decisions, and then service a portfolio of loans.

When I first shifted my career to being a bank examiner with a federal regulatory agency, I primarily served as a credit specialist reviewing the lending practices of a variety of agricultural banks. This offered significant opportunities to learn more about the agricultural industry throughout the nation, and over time, understand the credit operations of increasingly larger and more complex financial institutions. I eventually gained exposure to other major components of banking, including operations and capital markets. Today, I serve as a director of a division that oversees the safety and soundness of a portfolio of agricultural banks throughout the country. I have been fortunate to find a career that has provided the perfect mix of agriculture and banking.

Meet Elsa

Elsa Arnold
Assistant Vice President AgriBusiness & Food Banking

M&I, BMO Financial Group
Watertown, WI
Hometown: Spring Grove, MN
B.S. Agricultural Business (2004)

I manage around 100 accounts, each with loans and deposits, for the bank. About 95% are production agriculture customers, varying from small-scale and organic farms to local produce growers and 1,000+ cow dairy farms. When farmers request financing, have questions on transferring their business to the next generation, or want to know about the security of their online banking services, I am the point person. BMO Financial Group has experts in equipment leases, online banking, estate planning, commodity market analysis, and crop insurance to assist my customers. I connect those expert resources with my customers when I can’t provide the answer. The rest of my time is spent traveling to farms.

UWRF set me up for success through coursework emphasizing professional writing and applied agricultural economics. Thanks to faculty, I benefited from two scholar programs: AgStar and CAFES-USDA with Michigan State University. The network of contacts I have in fellow alumni made relocation from my Minnesota hometown fun.

Career Resources

UWRF Career Services
CAFES Internships

Career Outlook

Recently, the USDA published "Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in Food, Agriculture, Renewable Natural Resources, and the Environment, United States, 2015-2020." This study states that there will be more than 57,000 average annual job openings in the areas of food, agriculture, renewable resources and the environment. Of those, approximately 46 percent will be in management and business positions. (source) UWRF graduates of the agribusiness program have been in high demand and we expect that to continue.

Contact Us

Agricultural Economics
131 Agricultural Science
611 S. 3rd Street
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