Organization helps producers manage water, marketing
By MATTHEW WEAVER
A Washington State University economist with experience in managing risk for dairy and cattle operations is the new leader of the university's risk management center.
Shannon Neibergs, WSU associate professor and extension economist, will become director of the WSU Extension Western Center for Risk Management Education beginning July 5.
The center develops programs to help producers with water management, commercial agriculture, marketing, succession planning and financial management.
"I've applied for grants through the center and administered some of these workshops and research programs using center funds," Neibergs told the Capital Press, noting he will now help manage the grant application process in his new position.
The center is funded through federal competitive grants, Neibergs said.
"All the agencies are cutting back, and that competitive environment is just becoming more intense," he said. "We've been successful in the past and we anticipate being successful in the future."
Neibergs' research includes dairy farming, cattle management and marketing, agri-business profitability and thoroughbred auction markets. Neibergs expects to continue his work on the efficiency of livestock production.
Dan Bernardo, dean of WSU's College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, said in a press release that Neibergs has the perfect background to take the center to the next level.
"He's been working on the ground with producers for years and is a great teacher who knows how to effectively communicate and help people deal with complex economic issues," Bernardo said.
Neibergs replaces Jon Newkirk, who recently retired from WSU Extension after 21 years.
Neibergs praised Newkirk for his work addressing increased market and climate risk in agricultural production and said he expects to continue that work.
"It's a successful formula," he said, noting Newkirk's approach used technology such as web seminars and audio releases alongside online aids and workshops. "We're going to continue those and try to develop anything new that might improve outreach."
Increases in input costs and price volatility have increased the financial risks, Neibergs said. Prices for wheat, corn and some other commodities have increased this year.
"Trying to plan and take advantage of those market movements are part of the education efforts we want to pursue," he said.
Newkirk operated out of Spokane. Neibergs said he will be headquartered in Pullman and maintain the Spokane office, commuting as needed.