Dunn Can Get It Done

Inside Dakota Ag

Barry Dunn, the new president of SDSU College of Ag, is apparently well aware of what some farmers and ranchers say is the institution's shortcomings.

Published on: November 20, 2010

Several people have told me that Barry Dunn is going to be great for Dakota agriculture.

It took me one phone interview with Dunn to agree.

Dunn is the new president of the South Dakota College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences and is charge of ag education, research and Extension in South Dakota.

Dunn has done it all. He’s farmed and ranched, taught agriculture, done ag research and worked in Cooperative Extension.

What impressed me most is that Dunn acknowledges that some of today’s most successful farmers and ranchers say that SDSU – and especially the Extension Service – isn’t as relevant to their operations as it once was.

He gets right to the cause of the problem, too – budgets have been cut and the role of ag research and Extension has been greatly expanded to include urban audiences. There are more horticulturists as SDSU than swine or sheep specialists, he notes.

But Dunn points out where farmers and ranchers are wrong, too. Every agronomist, veterinarian and nutritionist – nearly every technical expert on a farm or ranch management team – was trained at a land grant university and receives continuing education from extension specialists.

Land grant institutions need to be shored up or ag productivity will suffer, he says.

If anyone can do that in South Dakota, Dunn probably can.