CSUB announces first agriculural degree program to serve local industry

AGBusinessLocal farming and ranching companies that want to hire CSUB graduates will join university administrators, faculty and students on Friday, Oct. 21, to announce the start of the new Ag Business program in the School of Business and Public Administration. A press conference will take place at 9 a.m., followed by giveaways and informational booths until noon in Runner Park, the lawn area between Science II and the Student Recreation Center. There will be free samples of carrots from Grimmway Farms and nuts from Paramount Farming Company and Tejon Ranch.

Located in the heart of the agriculturally rich Southern San Joaquin Valley, CSUB has long wanted to offer ag-related academic programming but has been unable to do so due to programs being offered at nearby CSU campuses Fresno State and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. To better serve the local community, CSUB is taking the unique approach of offering a concentration in agricultural business within the bachelor of science in business administration.

The goal is to teach students the business of the agricultural industry so that local companies can hire qualified graduates to join their management teams.

"The local agricultural community has a need for qualified and educated employees," said Jeff Green, general counsel for Grimmway Farms. "We, as an industry, have found that we have a better chance of hiring and retaining qualified employees if those employees are locally grown and educated. Through this agribusiness program, we are hopeful that local students will avail themselves of quality educations and internships and that local companies will have the opportunity to hire our homegrown talent."

With the state continuing to slash funding to the California State University system, CSUB is utilizing existing resources to launch the Ag Business program. The five required courses are adaptations of existing classes and count toward any business administration bachelor's degree. The new courses are: ag business law, ag accounting, ag marketing, ag economics, and a choice between ag trade and ag finance. One course will be taught each quarter by existing faculty as well as industry professionals as adjuncts.

Grimmway's Jeff Green, who has taught business law at CSUB as an adjunct in the past, will teach the first course – ag business law – in winter quarter.

"From the students' perspectives, there are many courses that, even if they're not majoring in ag business, they will want to take. For example, ag business law will count toward the business law course, which is something all students in business have to take," said CSUB professor Aaron Hegde, director of the Environmental Resource Management program and coordinator of the new Ag Business program.

Friday's event aims to educate students as well as the community about the new program. CSUB is also aiming to attract transfer students from Bakersfield College's agricultural program, who typically transfer to Fresno or SLO to finish their four-year degrees.

For more information about the Ag Business program at CSUB, contact Aaron Hegde at shegde@csub.edu or call 654-2495.

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